‘Now is not the time to rejoice, we cannot let our guard down’
Dr AK Singh Rana, the head of the department of surgery, who is the new medical superintendent (MS) of Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, spoke to Anonna Dutt about learnings from the Covid-19 pandemic.Updated: Aug 08, 2020 14:43 IST
Dr AK Singh Rana, the head of the department of surgery, who is the new medical superintendent (MS) of Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, spoke to Anonna Dutt about learnings from the Covid-19 pandemic, the mortality rate in the hospital, resuming the care of non-Covid patients, and expansion plans.
What lessons did you learn in the last six months of the Covid pandemic?
The invaluable lesson we have learnt is that everyone had to come together to enable us to take care of the patients with Covid-19. Patients suffering from the disease, including those suspected to have the infection, started coming to the hospital from March and health workers in respiratory medicine, internal medicine, and critical care medicine bore the brunt of it.
Doctors, nurses, paramedics and staff from across departments pitched in and worked with a lot of dedication.
In a recent review of Covid-19 deaths by the Delhi government, RML was one of 11 hospitals with the highest death toll. What is being done to reduce mortality?
One of the problems with the calculation of high mortality rate in comparison to the number of admissions is that the deaths of people admitted to the hospital prior to the selected period, but who died during the said period, were included. The number of admissions had reduced during that period, that is why the number of deaths appears to be higher.
Another issue—which was pointed out by physicians from several other hospitals—was the delay in admissions. We have observed that the death rate is higher when patients report to the hospital late — it could be because people are scared of coming to a hospital, public transport has not resumed full throttle, and there is an inertia among people over the last few months.
The death rate is also high among old people with multiple comorbidities.
With the number of Covid-19 hospitalisations on the decline, are we looking at moving to non-Covid services now?
Now is not the time to rejoice; we cannot let our guards down. Other countries — like the US — saw a decline in the number of cases before the resurgence. But, yes, we need to look at how to go back to offering complete non-Covid treatment. Ever since the pandemic began, we have not closed our emergency services or the OPD at all.
Next week, I have a meeting with all the heads of the departments to discuss what can be done. I want to have a plan in place so that we can gradually and safely move to taking care of non-Covid patients whenever experts feel that it is the right time. We cannot de-escalate all our preparations in one go.
What are your plans for improving hospital infrastructure?
We have an ambitious redevelopment plan for the hospital. With the population of Delhi growing, the old infrastructure has become inadequate. Horizontal expansion is no longer possible, we are now looking at vertical expansion.
The construction of the super speciality block behind the trauma centre is about to start. It will have 332 beds; 68 with ventilators. The huge triangular area across the road — where the psychiatry department is located — will be used to construct the medical college (the hospital started an MBBS programme last year.) Then, an underpass will be constructed to connect it to the main building.
A 300-bed student hostel will be constructed on a vacant plot nearby — and this will be used to relocate the departments moved from the triangular areas. We also have 2.1 acres of land where a dedicated maternity and child health centre will be constructed. An 832-room doctors’ hostel is already under construction. The old emergency and the OPD building will be razed to create high-rise buildings.