Lock down activities at Aravind-Pondicherry

Overcoming crisis requires innovative thinking. Let’s hear about how Aravind-Pondicherry, with its unique ideas, addresses challenges during  lock down.

Dear Aravind Family and Friends of Aravind,

It has always been a pleasure to connect with all of you. Hope this newsletter finds all of you hale and healthy, especially during these tough times. We can congratulate ourselves as we have maintained self-discipline and have helped in ensuring social distancing and at the same time not compromised on providing quality eye care for emergency patients.

Though it has been a tough month, we have shown unity to resolve fighting this virus by following the lockdown protocol.  But it does not mean that this unforeseen situation has come to an end. In fact, it’s just the beginning. The hard truth is that this is going to go on for some more months. However, there is no need to panic. All of us need to show courage and positivity and face this situation with strength and determination. Of course, our government is trying its level best to safeguard everyone and satisfy essential needs of public and health care sector.

It’s true, we should not be bound by the past and work for the future, but we feel immensely happy to share our activities during lockdown period.

-Dr. R. Venkatesh and team

Infrastructure is the key to development!

The whole of Aravind-Pondy team from doctors to cleaning staff are braving the situation patiently and providing selfless support to keep the institute running and functional for emergency patients.

  • Overnight, the team worked tirelessly to modify the layout for patient movement within the hospital building right from installing wash basins at the entrance, to the enquiry desk , setting up a triaging clinic right at the entrance, physical distancing of patient’s seating by removing the middle chairs along with ensuring that the facility maintains a well sanitized environment.
  • Queue for thermal scanning ensuring social distancing depicted by footprints for patients to follow and masks are provided for ensuring safety and preventing droplet transmission.
  • The triage area is set up with a plastic cubicle, in a very well-ventilated manner. The slit lamp is fixed thus, that the chin rest is outside the plastic cubicle and the rest of the slit lamp optics are inside the barrier. The plastic acts as a shield between the doctor and the patient, thereby decreasing the exposure to micro droplets.
  • A table fan is placed behind the doctor to prevent droplets transmission during slit lamp examination, by directing air-jet away from doctor’s face. The concept of scribe doctor was introduced to avoid contaminating the keyboards and writing materials by the doctor examining the patient
  • As air-conditioning systems contribute to the spread of virus, great care is taken to ensure cross-ventilation inside rooms
  • As this pandemic has put the frontline health workers under mounting pressure, E-consultation has mitigated the need for clinicians to be in the same place as patients, thus limiting risk of exposure to COVID-19 virus.
  • A UV light room sterilization was designed for sterilizing the triage area in the evening hours after the OPD is over

Necessity is the mother of invention and innovation

While majority of the world was engrossed with media, Aravind-Pondy saw this period through innovative eyes.The unusual situation brought out by the COVID-19 pandemic throws several challenges.  Addressing them meant innovating constantly.  These innovations were swiftly put into practice by the tireless efforts of doctors, MLOP, housekeeping and maintenance departments.

DIY face shield:

Ophthalmologists are more susceptible to the exposure as the procedures are all close to patients. Hence to protect themselves and to take care of COVID 19 Suspects, they came up with DIY (Do-It -Yourself) safety face shield.

3D masks:

Proper PPE is imperative in protecting oneself from COVID 19 and due to increased demand, there is a worldwide shortage. To address this, the team has experimented with 3D printed masks and shields.  A mask that achieves a tight seal is provided with a space for attaching a filter (standard filter or N95 filter) which can be replaced after use. The masks can be customized according to face configuration and can be easily disinfected by soap or bleaching solution and thereby reused. This mask provides a good seal thereby being comparable to N95 mask which gives the best protection against COVID-19.


Hospitals throughout the world are facing a shortage of critical N95 respirator masks..To tackle this, the team came up with a solution of fitting UV lights to freezer box and making it an airtight ultraviolet chamber for optimal decontamination of respirators. The freezer box can contain 40+ respirators for decontamination. Individually marked respirators are sterilized and reused for up to 15 times. This is a simple and environment friendly way to safely reuse respirators.

Auto dispenser for hand sanitizer:

Sanitizing hands is imperative to avoid droplet transmission. Every time the nozzle of the sanitizer is pressed, microbes from the hands of one person can spread to the next person.. To avoid such a chain reaction, an auto dispenser was innovated for hand sanitiser using UPVC pipes and locally available materials. This idea has reached many, all over the world through social media within a short span of time.

Foam stand for face shield: 

To avoid touching unsterile surfaces and prevent scratches on face shield, a foam stand was designed.

Slit lamp shield:

A plastic shield acts as a barrier to the transmission of microbes from respiratory and oral droplets, while the patient is being examined on the slit lamp.

COVID – safe fundus photography: 

To break the transmission chain, fundus camera has been provided sterilizable covers and shields

Safety cabin for MRD: 

To ensure safety of the MRD staff during registration process and enquiring personal details of patients, a separate safety cabin was created.


The whole world has come to a standstill during the lockdown. What used to seem so normal, now feels like a far fetched dream. Daily chores like buying groceries, vegetables became difficult.  After failed attempts at home delivery options/ suspended online services, the team came up with the idea of having Covineed, a temporary in-campus mini store.  By the courtesy of a camp sponsor, necessary things of daily need were ordered on request and arranged in cupboards. Covineed store works from 10AM -1PM everyday with staff following all safety measures and social distancing.

Stay strong, physically and mentally

The young and motivated MLOPs constitute a major part in the functioning of the institute. Though they stay far away from their families, their fervor and will to study and work hard never wanes. In these unprecedented times of battling with the COVID-19 threat, they stood strong and dedicated themselves in delivering the emergency services, adhering to all the precautionary measures.  MLOPs, being a vulnerable group, the hospital introduced a set of initiatives to make sure that they remain healthy and safe:

  • Number of occupants in the Nurses Hostel was reduced and the first and second year students were relocated to free hospital wards, provided with cots arranged in such a way to maintain social distancing.To ensure that the MLOPs do not feel home-sick, Whatsapp calls with family are allowed once a week.
  • Keeping in mind that an “Empty Mind is a Devil’s workshop”, department-wise classes, bhajans and extracurricular activities including art and craft sessions are being organized.  Tests, assignments, project /model works etc are given, in which the MLOPs actively participate as a team. Role plays are encouraged to test their skills and understanding of COVID-19 pandemic. Doctors take sessions on the importance of personal hygiene and safety measures to follow, not just during these days but forever. Educational videos are also screened for improving their knowledge and creating awareness. On the entertainment front, apart from indoor games, arrangements were made for watching television, news and  movies.

Learning never stops

Lockdown lecture series

Aravind-Pondicherry conceptualized and pioneered online knowledge sharing and learning via the daily lock down lecture series since 30th March 2020 featuring national and international speakers of high repute. The grand finale is titled Lockdown Jugaad Series where various innovations regarding quality and safety of healthcare professionals and patients are being showcased. Innovations from all over the country will be judged by a team of experts and prizes are given for the top 3 jugaads.

Kahoot quiz & Forum discussion

Apart from the usual webinars, the team introduced Kahoot quiz and Discussion forums for ophthalmic fraternity. A lot of delegates and post graduates participated and benefitted.


With an aim to utilize free hours to its maximum productivity, an academic extravaganza in the form of Writathon was organized to achieve maximum publications. The final year post graduates were motivated to submit their thesis for publications in various journals.

IOL forums and glaucoma meetings

Specialty education was conducted in form of interactive forums and meetings to update doctors on various studies and techniques.

Awareness creation

Awareness videos on COVID-19 as well as digital eye strain especially in the context of work-from-home were created in Tamil and English for public awareness.


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