COVID-19: Despite warnings, private clinics remain shut; doctors says they lack PPEs

Updated: May 01, 2020, 07:31 IST | Vishal Singh, Faizan Khan | Mumbai

Following several complaints, Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner, Sanjay Kumar through his official twitter handle appealed to doctors on humanitarian grounds to remain open

This picture has been used for representation purpose
This picture has been used for representation purpose

Despite strict instructions from the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) and the state government, most private clinics in the area continue to remain shut. While patients are finding it really difficult to get treatment for other ailments, physicians claim that non-availability of PPE kits and sanitisation of clinics were their biggest challenges.

Following several complaints, Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner, Sanjay Kumar through his official twitter handle appealed to doctors on humanitarian grounds to remain open. The tweet says, "A humble and humanitarian request to all the doctors having private clinics to open up their clinics for non COVID-19 treatments... We are ready to extend all out support for the purpose."

Speaking about the problems doctors were facing, Dr Chetan Chhajed, orthopaedic surgeon, Navi Mumbai, said, "I run a private hospital in Kamothe, which is open but we face a threat to our lives because of the unavailability of PPE kits. They are not available. We have somehow arranged for some masks for our staff but the local authorities are not sanitising the clinic. We allow only patients with serious conditions to visit the clinic, the rest are given consultation online. Another problem is that no transport is available and not all patients have vehicles."

Dr. Pratik Phake runs a private clinic in old Panvel, which has been declared a containment zone. He gives appointments to his patients in advance and opens his clinic twice a week for three hours. Speaking to mid-day, he said, "The non- availability of PPE kits, thermal guns, housekeeping staff and medicines are challenges. Some shops are selling PPE kits and thermal guns at very high price, which needs to be looked into. Apart from this, sanitising the clinic is a major problem."
Meanwhile, Dr N Yewale, who runs a private clinic in Kamothe, said, "The society where our clinic is has locked its gate and we are not getting water supply, which is why I have shut the centre and have been speaking to patients over the phone. Maybe the society people are scared. Unavailability of PPE kits and sanitising of the clinic are other challenges."

Similar situation in city

The doctors in Mumbai are facing similar issues and despite warnings of legal action from the BMC, they haven't opened their clinics.

National vice-president, IMA headquarters, Dr Anil Pachnekar, who has his clinic in Dharavi, said, "Doctors in Mumbai have smaller clinics where it is difficult to follow social-distancing rules. The doctors are also scared due to the lack of PPE kits and N95 masks." "Different types of patients visit doctors' clinics and not all of them wear masks and use hand sanitizers. In such a situation, the clinic should be sanitised by the local municipal corporation," Dr Pachnekar added.

'Help the society'

When contacted, Navi Mumbai Municipal Commissioner, Annasaheb Misal told mid-day, "This is my appeal to all doctors to help the society and keep their clinics open for the people in need. The PPE kits are available in the market and we will extend full support to them. We have not taken any action yet and don't force us to do so."

"Many clinics have resumed operations. The health department is checking nursing homes first. Today itself 15 nursing homes restarted their services," said Dr. Daksha Shah, executive health officer, BMC. Speaking about the health issues he has been facing, Kharghar resident, Abrar Chaudhary said, "I have a neurospine problem since almost a year and I get my primary treatment from Bombay Hospital. I have been consulting some local doctors in Navi Mumbai but due to the lockdown they are not available at their clinics. They do undertake online consultations but respond as per their wish. I have swelling all over and am unable to walk without a support. Doctors need to check me first before prescribing medicines."

Worli resident, Anurag Singh, said, "It has been very difficult to find a doctor in our locality. A couple of days ago I had fever but when I went to my personal physician's clinic, it was closed."

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