Move to make Bathinda cancer hospital Covid centre opposed
With the Punjab government deciding to convert the Bathinda-based Advanced Cancer Institute (ACI) into a 75-bedded Covid care facility, the line of treatment for scores of cancer patients is likely to be hit.
ACI medical superintendent Dr Deepak Arora said on Thursday that the institute has started making arrangements to house level 2 Covid patients or those who need oxygen support.
He agreed that the ACI should not be used to treat both cancer and Covid patients in the same building due to the highly infectious coronavirus.
“Cancer surgeries are already suspended for the past two days and now we may have to shelve other treatments as well. At present, we do not have any alternative venue to treat cancer patients. ACI offers affordable treatment to cancer patients,” Arora said.
Institute caters to 500 cancer patients daily
Health activists and families of those suffering from cancer have objected to suspending all operations for fear of Covid infection.
According to sources, ACI caters to 500 cancer patients daily. Unlike, other illnesses, any delay may cost life or quality of life to those battling the disease.
“On an average 100 patients undergo chemotherapy and almost a similar number need radiotherapy treatment every day. The daily footfall at the outdoor patient department (OPD) is 300. The institute performs about 3-5 surgeries per day,” says a hospital staff member, requesting anonymity.
ACI is a constituent of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS), Faridkot, and caters to cancer patients from Bathinda and adjoining districts of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.
Low immunity of cancer patients a concern
Medical experts say cancer patients maintain low immunity due to the disease and treatments. Association of Physicians of India (Malwa chapter) president Dr Vitull K Gupta said the cancer patients should not be exposed to the virus that is highly contagious.
“The state authorities should take over any public complex in Bathinda, including schools, colleges or the Maharaja Ranjit Singh University Technical University, to treat Covid patients. Covid-19 protocol demands oxygen support to such patients and additional beds can be made available even in stationary railway compartments,” said Gupta.
A local resident said treatment in the private sector is beyond the reach of most of the patients enrolled at ACI. “In April last year, the state authorities had to withdraw a similar decision after hospital staff, including doctors and attendants of cancer patients, had protested against moving Covid-19 patients to ACI. State finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal, who represents Bathinda, should intervene and ensure ACI is not used as a Covid care centre,” said a cancer patient’s husband.