Lock down activities at Aravind-Tirupati

Aravind-Tirupati is just a year old.  Let’s hear from the team how it bonded so well to address the need of the hour.

A very warm greeting from SV Aravind Eye Hospital, Tirupati.

We being a little far from our Aravind herd have just crossed one year. Like branches in a tree, we all grow in different directions. Yet, our roots remain as one.

We are surprised to see Tirupati now, lying calm with empty roads, the long flight of stairs leading pilgrims to the temple wearing a deserted look. Andhra Pradesh has reported 2700 COVID-19 cases as against the 15,500 in Tamil Nadu as on 24th May 2020. Though the cases are comparatively lesser, lockdown is being very strictly followed. Municipality has been very efficient in handling the situation and with good planning makes sure that people’s basic needs are addressed.  It opened markets in a few open play grounds that had enough space for people to maintain social distancing.

 Our hospital in Tirupati is very lucky to have a young and bonded team. We always feel proud of our MLOP team who have travelled all the way far from their homes in Tamil Nadu. With constant interaction with patients, all of them have gained good Telugu language skills. Telugu has become a part of their life to the extent that we can even hear them utter Telugu words during our routine internal meetings in Tamil.  The campus being so calm and serene with fresh air and beautiful flowers around, the MLOPs really have a lovely time.

 Our doctors, managers and admin staff have been very hard working. Despite the challenges brought in by lock down, they come to work with great commitment. Patient crowd being less these days, we are able to spend quality time with our outsourced staff (security and cleaners) who have also merged well with our mission. It is very heartening to see that staff in Tirupati have imbibed so much of Aravind Culture in just a year’s time.

We have been trying hard to maintain the morale of the team during this tough time. So far it has been a great time for our hospital to work on various areas which were not in our priority earlier, like the patient scheduling system, awareness creation on infection control practices among our staff, extracurricular talents, improving staff and patient safety, creative innovations etc.

 Overall, we feel that this COVID break has given us a chance to build our team spirit. Together, we were able to achieve a lot and I’ m happy to share these with our readers. With constant blessings and support from the big Aravind family, let’s aspire to achieve more in the coming days.

-Tirupati team

7 Quick tips

As the printers are not functioning due to lock down restrictions, the MLOPs got together to make a series of seven colourful, bilingual sign boards to educate patients on protecting themselves and in preventing the spread of the corona virus infection. These seven tips are placed along the walkway to the hospital. These serve as gentle reminders to the patients to wash their hands, use handrub, have attenders only when necessary, give correct information on wearing mask and maintain social distance at all times.

Changes in patient flow

Various changes were made in patient flow to ensure less spread of any infection. Having a spacious building and a central courtyard has been a boonat these times. A brief questionnaire and thermal scanning are done before patients enter the hospital. To limit crowding, attenders are allowed only for vulnerable patients. All persons wash hands at the main gate and use hand sanitizer before entering the main building. Signs have been posted on the floor and chairs have been cordoned off to maintain social distancing at all times.

Vision testing and slit-lamp evaluation by doctor is done in the lobby area where there is adequate ventilation. Patients are sent to unit-1 and Retina clinic when there is a need for detailed evaluation. Staff have been provided with personal protective equipment according to their proximity to patients.

Empower to contribute

Awareness programmes on COVID are regularly being conducted for MLOPsso that they understand the situation better. They have played a major role in creating protocols for each of their departments. PowerPoint presentations were made and presented by the senior MLOPs from each department explaining the various precautions to be followed in theirrespective work area.

NABH classes are also being arranged weekly in batches, all these while maintaining social distancing. To make learning fun, a quiz programme is also being planned.

Stay active all day

The MLOPs are given a well-defined routine to engage themselves in the best possible way. It is their responsibility to ensure that their rooms and corridors are maintained clean as well as social distancing at all times. Spoken English and Telugu classes are also conducted daily. They have been enjoying the morning yoga classes, taken by one of the doctors’ wife.  A group of MLOPs have been involved in gardening – removing weeds, watering, decorating the garden and setting up a herbal garden.  A few have opted to spend their time with art and crafts and have created amazing art from hospital waste and even a chess set out of bottle caps. A special thanks goes to the outsourced canteen staff forproviding healthy and tasty food and snacks at the hostel.

Innovations making a difference

Amongst all health care workers, anaesthetists are at the highest risk of exposure to infective aerosols from patients. To prevent aerosol splash on the anaesthetist while intubating, aerosol box is widely used. But,  it is difficult to place this ophthalmology operation tables which are narrow. Also, the holes seem quite large and there is not much protection for the assisting anaesthesia technician. Aravind-Tirupati has come up with a Flexible Aerosol X-Box made from Aluminium curtain rod and transparent notebook cover. This easy-to-make, light weight and cost-effective option provides better coverage on all sides thereby better safety.

In collaboration with Regional Science Centre, Aravind- Tirupati has developed a sensor-based soap and sanitizer dispenser. This eliminates the need for touch, thereby reducing cross infection. The prototype is ready and the final product will be soon shared with other Aravind centres.

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