Right from putting on the PPE suit to the protocols to be followed in case we suspected someone in the staff was infected, we trained our staff, conducted several mock drills and institutionalized regular audits in all our hospitals.
‘Extra sterilization, setting up of isolation wards, staff rotation and quarantine, responsible waste disposal and comprehensive disinfection were key areas of attention. Sample testing was done and the hospitals were calibrated against those tests. ‘As of now, four of our hospitals are doing the testing. As of 25 June, Manipal Hospitals group has a dedicated isolation and treatment facility in Karnataka.’
Talking on how the hospital is keeping the doctors and front-line staff engaged, Dilip tells me how he has been conducting regular town halls with all the hospitals: ‘These are tough times for our staff. Be it the cleaning staff or the nurse or the doctor or even the security personnel, everyone is under tremendous stress. They hear about cases of medical staff getting infected in other hospitals and are concerned not just for themselves but their families as well. We have staff who have elderly parents and young kids at home and these people do not want to go home in the fear of exposing them to the virus. There are accounts of the medical staff being discriminated against by their landlords, neighbours and friends. It is not just a financial or a business crisis, but one where the entire humanity is being tested.
‘A reason I delayed in giving you an interview was because the last few weeks have been very intense and stressful and the priority was internal communication and engagement. The heads of each of our hospitals are making themselves accessible 24×7 to the staff.
Regular visits and conversations with the staff, reinforcing the safety protocols has been the top agenda for all the individual leaders as well as for the group. The staff is also guided on the nutrient needs to keep themselves healthy.
‘Fatigue is now setting in and it is all the more crucial for us to keep our staff consciously aware of the protocols for their safety. There is also a lot of cross-institutional knowledge-sharing and learning. Network of doctors, management staff and industry peers are conducting formal and informal sessions and brainstorming to deal with the crisis. While there are top-down directives at the Centre and state levels and regulations change quite frequently, the industry recognizes the need to be mindful of the current situation and work as one unit rather than a fragmented response.’
There has been a lot of misinformation related to COVID. Dilip believes that hospitals play a critical role in curtailing this.Through our social media channels, our doctors come and bust the myths related to the virus and its treatment. To give you an example, patients who needed chemotherapy or dialysis were delaying these procedures. We constantly communicated to them the hazards of doing so and assured them of their safety. We have also been actively blogging and spreading accurate information amongst our patients.
‘At the same time, work from home (WFH) and a sedentary lifestyle are leading to varied health problems. Our doctors are constantly writing about lifestyle practices to be followed, especially due to the possibility of the situation stretching further. From educating people on the need to wear masks to other lifestyle risks they need to be mindful of, we are in the front and centre of dealing with the repercussions of the new normal.’
--Extracted from INFLECTION POINT by Disha , with permission from Rupa Publications India’