Lock down activities at Aravind-Chennai
Uncertainty still persists in Chennai as the district accounts for over half of the COVID-19 cases in the state. Let’s hear from Aravind-Chennai how it prepares itself to meet the greatest challenge of our time.
While India and the world are grappling with the pandemic, we at Aravind, Chennai are making efforts to provide a safe environment for our patients and staff. With lockdown 3.0 coming to a close and the fourth phase starting, the uncertainty still persists in Chennai where Koyambedu market emerged a ‘super spreader’ and accounts for almost half of the COVID-19 positive cases in the state. Being a part of the Aravind Eye Care System family with regular meetings of the task force that included leadership across all hospitals is a huge positive that gave ample opportunities to learn and share while we developed guidelines.
Being a relatively newer hospital that was just starting to see four digit outpatients, the pandemic surfaced the strength of the team. While the young team had to relearn the new normal aspects of safety and care giving, we embarked on a journey of strength and camaraderie. Regular training, monitoring and audits are useful to ensure the team was well oriented and followed protocols. The trickling OP gave the team time to establish new protocols and standard of care, while people also had time to sit back and explore our innate passion. Ranging from outdoor and indoor games, glass painting, gardening, poster making, artwork, cooking, dance and music both within the campus and within their homes we started seeing the life people had beyond ophthalmology.
We had our own challenges along the way, including two of the staff on campus contracting chicken pox. Once these staff were isolated and treated, the rest of the team rose to the occasion to completely clean and fumigate their living space, this combined with vaccination of those who had not previously been vaccinated helped control the spread of the infection. With over 80% of the staff (and almost all the MLOPs) staying on campus, priority was to ensure that they were safe and healthy while being engaged and energized. Our managers and senior housekeepers had an immense role to play in making this happen. While some departments functioned with only a fraction of the staff, some others like the cleaning staff showed up as a team using the transportation provided by the hospital.
Going forward as we embark on regular patient care, we look forward to continue to provide a safe environment for patients and staff by streamlining patient flow, conducting mock drills, following the new norms and creating awareness.
And while we do all this, to continue to preserve empathy and compassion!
Care during Corona
The hospital remains functional though it was catering to only emergency cases in the initial days of lock down. To ensure safety of both patients and staff, a set of measures are undertaken taking into account social distancing and other hygienic practices. Slit lamp breath protector is placed on all slit lamps. A dedicated triaging area is created near the registration to examine patients with red eye and conjunctivitis. No attendant policy is followed except in case of paediatric and vulnerable patients. An exclusive waiting area is set up for the attendants at the front portico. The team contacted postoperative patients over telephone and asked them to continue medications and come for review, if they were symptomatic. Great care is taken to make sure that the cleaning protocols of surfaces and floors are strictly followed. Special appreciation to our housekeepers and cleaners for following the intense cleaning protocols. Audits are done four times a day to monitor adherence to the COVID-19 protocol. Sanitizers and masks are made available in the hospital pharmacy for patients and attenders.
The team continues RoP screening every week upon request from the hospitals.
Our people, our strength
With Chennai being a ‘hot spot’, extreme care is taken to ensure safety of staff. As a preventive measure, they are provided with personal protective equipment as per the protocol. Hospital vehicle is sent to pick up and drop staff residing within a 5 kilometer radius around the hospital. MLOPs staying in the hostel are spread out to occupy unused rooms, so that there are fewer staff in each room. MLOPs who suffered from fever etc were isolated and treated until they recovered completely. Full salary was credited for the month of April, even to those who were not able to turn up for work.
Stay positive, stay creative
MLOPs are split into two batches and posted in the hospital on alternate days. Those who are not on duty start their day with yoga, which help them remain healthy both physically and mentally. This is followed by a motivational video session. The Chief Medical Officer speaks to the MLOPs regularly to keep them enthused. Ample opportunities are given to showcase their talents in singing, skit, debates and so on. All MLOPs are divided into three groups and asked up to come up with creative ideas, posters and art work on the theme, ‘Creating awareness and Preserving empathy during COVID-19’. These are then displayed in the specific area allotted to each team. With great enthusiasm, they take part in games and spend quality time in their areas of interest – gardening, glass painting, art from waste and flower decoration.
MLOPs are kept engaged with a lot of academic sessions, which include skill assessment, viva, tests, seminars etc. Classes along with update on current news on the pandemic are taken on daily basis. They are involved in skill evaluation, viva, classes, tests, seminars / webinars, stock checking, etc. The respective MLOPS collate, maintain and share via email the activities from each of the departments. All department MLOPs presented quarterly parameter for the months of Jan – March 2020 and action points were captured.