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AIIMS To Set Up Screening Area for COVID-19 Suspects Before Starting OPD Services

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A screening area will be set up at the AIIMS here to identify and segregate patients having symptoms of influenza-like illness and COVID-19 before they are referred to the out-patient department as the hospital gears up to resume OPD services in a phased manner, officials said.

According to AIIMS chief spokesperson Dr. Aarti Vij, the premier hospital is in the process of modifying its OPDs in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Preparations are on in full swing for setting up a screening OPD to identify and segregate patients having influenza-like illness and COVID-19 suspects before they are sent to the main OPD, she said.

“This is being done from the point of view of taking all possible infection control measures to prevent any spread of infection to non-COVID patients and healthcare workers. Steps are also being taken towards ensuring good air circulation. Since we are modifying the OPDs, it will require few more days,” she said.

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It has been close to a month since AIIMS has shut down its OPD services and curtailed all elective surgeries as part of its efforts towards redirecting its resources to control the COVID-19 outbreak.

The hospital has also constituted a committee to devise a strategy for restoring healthcare services in a phased manner, Vij said.

A large proportion of manpower and patient care facilities are being dedicated to managing COVID-19 patients. Besides, the entire AIIMS Trauma Centre has been converted into a dedicated COVID-19 hospital and the NCI Jhajjar also is treating coronavirus-infected patients.

The entire trauma casualty and the emergency have been shifted to the AIIMS’ main emergency.

“Doctors at AIIMS are currently providing teleconsultations to all follow-up patients in an effort to reduce the need for them to visit the facility during the lockdown. Around 1000 teleconsultations are being provided per day in different departments in total and these figures are going up,” Vij said.

The COVID-19 National Tele-consultation Centre (CoNTeC) at AIIMS, New Delhi has handled over 4,500 calls that include calls for COVID-19-related queries, teleconsultation calls by doctors, and calls for appointments.

The contact phone number (+91 9115444155) can be dialed from anywhere in the country/world for OPD appointments and is also used as a public helpline.

Besides, around 44,000 emails from across the country have been responded to through the dedicated email ID (technicalquery.covid19@gov.in) to clarify any doubts in the minds of the general public pertaining to any technical aspect of COVID-19, Vij said.

An AIIMS sub-committee earlier was asked to prepare a blueprint for smooth restoration of OPD and non-emergency surgery services.

The chief of centres and heads of departments at AIIMS were asked to give an estimate of how many cases they can handle in a day if it has to be restarted.

The OT teams were also asked to finalise and draw a blueprint on how non-emergency surgeries will be conducted keeping in mind that some operation theatres are reserved for suspected COVID-19 patients in the main OT area of the hospital.

At present, hospital services have been curtailed as part of the government strategy to fight COVID-19 pandemic.

For the first time in its history, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences here shut down its OPD services, including speciality, and all new and follow-up registrations from March 24.

The AIIMS had also issued a circular postponing all nonessential elective procedures and surgeries and directed that only emergency life-saving surgeries be conducted with effect from March 21.

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