How a call between doctor, cop led to telephonic consultations in Jodhpur
On March 25, the union ministry of health and family welfare came up with guidelines on telemedicine, where earlier, there was no appropriate framework for registered medical professionals.Updated: Apr 30, 2020 02:39 IST
On April 13, Dr Nagendra Sharma, a senior neurosurgeon in Jodhpur made a call to Priti Chandra, deputy commissioner of police (DCP) West, to appreciate the work her team was doing to feed the elderly people and poor in the city. Sharma asked Chandra how he could help, and during the conversation, an idea emerged.
On March 25, the union ministry of health and family welfare came up with guidelines on telemedicine, where earlier, there was no appropriate framework for registered medical professionals. With this hurdle out of the way, Chandra and Sharma decided to create a team of medical professionals who would help Jodhpur residents address their medical needs over the telephone during the lockdown. With the healthcare infrastructure’s entire focus on Covid-19 — the city has 401 cases, while the state has 23393 as of April 29 afternoon — people’s other medical needs have struggled to get addressed.
The 65-year-old doctor who has been working as consultant for many private hospitals across western districts of Rajasthan since 1984 teamed up with six senior doctors to offer medical consultation. Chandra said that the police department bought Sim cards for the doctors to use. Furthermore, the Jodhpur city police popularised the initiative by sharing the numbers and the details of the doctors through social media and announcements made while patrolling. The very next day itself, the doctors began to receive hundreds of calls, said Sharma.
“We are glad to collaborate with the Jodhpur city police to bring medical consultations for free to the people of Jodhpur. This will save the trouble of physical travel for regular OPD visits, especially for the senior citizens and social distancing is also maintained,” Sharma said. The police have tied up with at least 30 chemists in order to get medicines home delivered in containment zones.
The doctors — a general surgeon, two physicians, an anaesthesiologist, a pulmonologist, and a gynaecologist — offer consultation free of cost, and attend at least 1000 calls a day between them. At least 12 more doctors have signed up this week, Sharma said.
Dr Indu Bhardwaj, the gynecologist who is part of this team said that she receives around 100 calls a day. “Mostly, pregnant women have been calling me to enquire about the probable effects of Covid-19 on their babies. Other complaints relate to high blood pressure, extra blood loss during menstruation, and the precautions they could take (against the virus),” she said. “If the complaint is serious, I recommend them to a nearby hospital.”
“Most patients complain about blood pressure, anxiety, body pain and sleeplessness and we recommend medications on the basis of our observations. Many also share their reports over email too,” Sharma said.
He starts receiving calls at 9am and recommends medicines only to those who don’t require emergency treatment. He takes video calls, and audio calls over Whatsapp. Comparatively, he said, the work was lighter than attending to patients in person. Most of the calls he receives are not serious. “They are more psychological,” he said.