Lock down activities at Aravind-Coimbatore

Lessons Learnt

Once the lock down was announced, I had mixed feelings. In the first week, we were not very clear about the situation. A lot of planning went in mainly to decongest the nurses hostel and minimizing the  utility of space within the hospital, initiatives to provide food for the MLOPs and the doctors in the hostel. Very few people came to work and the rest were taking turns to come.

By the end of the first week, it became a little chaotic (at least I felt) because there was no proper system  for the MLOPs. I felt that there was a lack of discipline and their time was not spent usefully.

By the end of 2nd week, we called for a meeting of some of the key administrative staff and senior nursing staff and discussed on ways to keep the MLOPs occupied in the right way. We felt that just taking classes on subjects and motivation is going to be boring for them. So we decided to take turns everyday and engage them productively.

From the 3rd week, all the MLOPs came to the hospital at 8 am in their uniforms. The 1st and 2nd year MLOPs have classes in the forenoon, both on clinical topics as well as general affairs. General classes are made interesting with video shows and role plays. After that they were mostly allowed to work on their subjects. The employees on the other hand were divided into groups and exposed to similar activities. In the afternoons, in turns they got to watch a movie with social distancing as per protocol.

We did facility rounds during the first week and identified areas for repairs and cleaning and it was started with the help of our housekeeping team and the outsourced supervisors. The garden maintenance was initiated with the help of the gardeners.

Personally, by the 2nd week I decided I have to be cool and enjoy lock down rather than getting anxious about it. But, I wanted to discipline myself so it will be easy to get back to routine. I regularly exercised in the morning, started some reading, learnt new recipes, some scrumptious sweets, and after almost 10 years I got the time to sit out and enjoy the birds and listen to music from evening 6 – 7 pm.

In the hospital, we tried out new ideas like flower arrangement, cooking classes, art from waste exhibition, etc. It was a good opportunity to meet and spend a lot of time with our sisters and it is amazing to see the potential in them which we are not able to expose in our day to day routine. The experience and the involvement of every one of them in participating, their creativity, uniqueness were heartening.

So from the 3rd week till now, everyday is a learning and an experience for lifetime. I am so happy and proud to be part of this team here in Coimbatore. Each one of them has contributed and made this lock down a memorable one for everyone of us. If we are happy today, its because of the relationships around us. So, take efforts to NURTURE RELATIONSHIPS. This is my learning from the lock down.

-Dr. Kalpana Narendran

Pursuits during the time of COVID-19

A total lockdown and quarantine  for such a prolonged period across the world has left people with a lot of free time not knowing how to fully utilise this opportunity. As a healthcare setup, it is imperative that while continuing to provide the best care to patients, necessary steps should be taken to prevent/mitigate the spread of corona virus infection.

New systems in place for safe eye care

A number of novel measures are put in place in the hospital which are diligently followed to ensure effective social distancing and patient management. Attender is allowed in only for paediatric and elderly patients. For other patients, attenders are asked to wait outside in a designated area and will be called in if necessary. Both the patient and the attender are tagged with different colour coded stickers. Temperatures are recorded for both patients and attenders and it is ensured that they wear masks and their hands are sterile. Masks are being provided at affordable rates to all those who come without wearing them.

Patients are triaged at the entrance before sent for screening. All infectious cases are attended to in a newly set up clinic and this helps minimise exposure in other clinics. Doctors who attend to patients need to wear full personal protective equipment (PPE). Masks, face shields, gloves are given to nurses depending on the level of exposure to patients. Acrylic/ thick-plastic splash-guard is placed in front of each slit-lamp to prevent the doctors from getting exposed to any aerosols from the patient. The sheet is wiped clean between each patient examination. In the context of COVID-19  a special  consent form from both patients and attender is made mandatory for any emergency procedures/surgery.

It is mandatory for the patient and attender to fill in and sign a special questionnaire (Tamil/English) with details pertaining to demographics, travel history and current health status. This information is filed in the case sheet.

Chairs in the waiting area and inside the clinics are arranged in such a way that it facilitates social distancing. The number of patients that can be accommodated at a time was then calculated and accordingly, patients are being sent in.

An isolation room is prepared to be used in case a potential COVID suspect case arrives.

Code Yellow is formed to activate a designated response team to reach and take over such a situation without causing panic amongst other patients, attenders and employees.

Hygiene, first

As prescribed by WHO, frequent hand washing is promoted. Hand rubs are placed strategically across the premises, either wall-mounted or on minimal contact apparatus. Wiping of all surfaces, handrails, chairs and door handles is done frequently. Slit lamps and diagnostic instruments are being cleaned with Lysol after every patient examination or every three hours.

Doors and windows of all rooms remain open to ensure good ventilation. Extreme care is taken to ensure all infection control protocols are stringently adhered to and monitored by Unit Head/ Clinical Coordinator/ Senior Sister.A ‘Sick Note Book’is maintained and a‘Sick Room’is designated for monitoring the health status of MLOPs.

Stay alert always

As a socially and professionally responsible organization, while we extend full cooperation to our Government during these times, we also have to make sure that the staff do not recede into an idle state. “Work is no disgrace; it is the idleness which is a disgrace.” said the famous Greek Poet Hesiod. This is the time when we can help our employees hone their knowledge, skills/ talents and probably help them learn new ones.

To make sure that the employees do not recede into an idle state, several activities are being organised. Post Graduates and the Fellows in the hostel regularly attend lectures, symposiums and webinars over coffee and snacks in the evening. The team also came up with ideas for making patient educational videos related to Corona Virus and awareness posters to be put up in various clinics.Doctors too actively participate in webinars. Paediatric ophthalmology department organized a webinar for Post Graduates. The Cornea department gave a Live Session on Corona Virus in Facebook.

Throughout the day, MLOPs are occupied with activities one after the another, in batches, ensuring that social distancing is maintained at all times.

On the knowledge development front, every department conducted skill assessments of the employees and trainees. The refraction department conducted an elaborate workshop with 12 teams, each comprising senior and junior most MLOPs.  Seniors in each team was given a skill which they have to demonstrate (through charts,pictures, models etc) to the juniors. At the end, junior MLOPs performed role plays showcasing their understanding of that particular skill. Based on their performance, their understanding of the concept and creativity in demonstration, winners were declared and awarded.  Neuro-ophthalmology clinic conducted a 4-day awareness programme on multiple sclerosis for the entire staff.

Opticals Department conducts webinars on various topics, twice everyday for its staff across the Aravind centres.

After popular requests, cookery classes and jewellery designing classes are being conducted regularly. Yoga classes and Basic English classes are planned for the coming weeks. Movies are screened once or twice a week.

Managers, Administrative Coordinators, Supervisors take turns in conducting classes for trainees and employees, on various topics – clinical, general knowledge, social responsibility, current affairs, interpersonal / soft skills etc.

Competitions to bring out hidden talents

Housekeeping department organises Flower Arrangement competitions every week, with a different theme each time. The girls came up with very aesthetically pleasing arrangements and it made viewers marvel at their skills and creativity.

Singing competition was organised with the theme, ‘Tamil rural Folk Songs’. Many came up with inspirational and meaningful choices and gave beautiful renditions.

Art from Waste competition made the MLOPs think creatively as to how to reuse items before deciding to discard them. MLOPs from all departments participated and came up with stunning pieces of art works and proved that creativity has no barriers.

Secondary centres playing their role

Aravind-Tirupur, Udumalpet and City Centre implemented triaging and screening of patients similar to the protocol followed in the base hospital. Aravind-Udumalpet conducted classes and viva for MLOPs. They also organized a grand exhibition of the projects done by the MLOPs, the theme being ‘Corona Virus’.  MLOPs at Aravind-Tirupur centre are engaged in a lot of extracurricular activities such as handicrafts, origami, apart from their regular classes. City Centre arranged for awareness talks on Corona Virus for its MLOPs.

Teamwork pays off

Braving an extraordinary situation like this demands wholehearted commitment from each one of the staff. With routine works coming to a halt, all departments joined hands in fighting COVID – IT with their unconditional support in organising online sessions; transport Department for the safe pick up and drop of employees; Housekeeping staff working round the clock for an infection-free premises and Civil Department addressing the special needs of the hour. Electricals team made the best use of this lean days by attending to a lot of pending issues. While the Gardening team ensured a pleasant ambience, the coffee shop/canteen staff made sure that the staff is provided with nutritious foods. It is with the dedication of all employees that the team successfully manage these challenging times.

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