The whole nation is grappled with this pandemic health problem, Coronavirus or COVID-19 that is affecting several lives in our country. Every day new cases are coming up with an increasing number of cases as well as deaths. Where on one side the government and its citizens are ensuring the prevention of COID-19 by practising strict social distancing, on the other hand, doctors, police and security force and the sanitation cleaners are ensuring that there is no community spread with their day and night efforts.
COVID-19 has troubled the whole world’s population affecting more than 18 lakh people as of now and the numbers seem to only go upwards rather than fall. In this regard, there are quite a few categories of patients who need to be extra careful and cautious while keeping up with their health system. One such kind of patient are those who are on dialysis. Dialysis can be a need for any patient who is facing kidney failure or a serious kidney health issue. Dialysis is something that cannot just be avoided. This is like an essential health service to the patients.
However, this whole global situation as well as in case of India, makes it all the more risky as to how the dialysis patients ensure their own safety and moreover, reach the dialysis centre without being affected by coronavirus while travelling or otherwise in general due to weak immunity.
COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus disease that is caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome. The main symptoms of coronavirus are fever, cough, cold, body pain, tiredness and breathlessness. The most threatened groups of people are those who are already facing some health issue that will not have a strong immunity to fight the infectivity of the virus and efforts would have to be taken to ensure that these people do not get it in the first place.
The challenge of COVID-19 is very different from other diseases because the COVID-19 can instantly affect the weak immunity where in the same geographical area, a dialysis patient can catch the infection fast. Those who go for dialysis thrice a week are at a greater threat of being exposed to the coronavirus amongst other patients and the medical staff.
Day by day hospitals are being overwhelmed with the number of COVID-19 patients along with other serious illness patients, emergency departments, ICUs.The patients who are on dialysis without many serious complications are being advised to stay at home and receive their dialysis in outpatient facilities.
Below are some ways by which dialysis centres can be mitigated so that COVID-19 does not spread like fire and even the kidney patients are protected in the hospital premises:
- Screening - This is the first and the most important step. People should be screened before they enter the hospital premises so that those who show some symptoms of coronavirus should be taken away to some other room and kept away from the general patients. This especially stands true for kidney patients who cannot afford to be exposed to the coronavirus infected atmosphere. Patents such as kidney patients should be checked and dialysis service should be done in such a way that he or she does not get affected with COVID-19.
- Proper Patient Arrangements - Proper efforts should be taken to isolate those patients who are suffering from coronavirus or who show the symptoms of the same. Separation at every level has to be maintained right from entering the hospital to the point of dialysis treatment. Maximum distance should be ensured between every patient. COVID-19 infected patients should be catered in a different room and if there is not much infrastructure to support the COVID-19 patients, then alternate arrangements by the medical staff should be made in such way that there is no contact by any coronavirus infected patient and that they remain isolated at all times.
- Follow Right Guidelines - COVID-19 infected patients should be instructed properly as to how they should keep themselves covered with face masks and keep themselves isolated too. Tissues should be provided to cover nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing and the used tissues should be discarded immediately in a plastic-lined garbage bin.
- Use Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) - Coronavirus spreads via the spread of the droplets expelled by sneezing or coughing by a person. Dialysis staff should ensure that there is the least contact with the patients and between patients. For this to be ensured, PPEs should be distributed to every patient like masks, gloves, eye protection and there should be adequate supply of PPEs so that no one catches COVID-19.
- Disinfect the Hospital and its Premises - Disinfection is a must in a hospital and other medical centres including the dialysis centres. Proper care should be taken to ensure that the surfaces remain clean including every part of the dialysis room such as chairs. Not a single surface be left out while disinfecting being done. Though disinfection should be done regularly and daily, yet if there is a need that due to some reason again a proper disinfection should be done then there should be no hesitance in doing the same.
- Stable Health Communication - It is crucial that the dialysis centres should inform all the patients and about the everyday functioning of the centres to the health department or to a supervisor or to a medical head. There should be no communication gap or any kind of miscommunication as after all, it is the whole hospital and medical authority’s duty and responsibility to work for everyone’s safety by informing rightly and correctly.
We all including the medical authorities have to develop a structured mitigation response to this pandemic problem of COVID-19 that is being faced globally. The closing of all commercial, education, civil centres means that we all are responsible for our own actions and hence, we need to strictly follow the norm of ‘social distancing’. The rise of the COVID-19 cases only ends up increasing the tension and stress and we have to be strong to fight it. Therefore, take every personal hygiene step and disinfect every surface regularly so that no one else gets infected in future.
By RG Hospital - Best Urology & Kidney Stone Hospital - Guinness World Record Holder