The morale of the medics is already low as they have been watching and listening to the news about the deaths of medical staffs in Italy and Spain. - A member of the Association of Private Health Institution of Nepal (APHIN)
KATHMANDU, March 28: Though private hospitals in Kathmandu have set up fever clinics to test suspected COVID-19 cases as directed by the government, medics are collecting swab samples and keeping the suspected cases in isolation without wearing personal protection equipment (PPE).
Organizing a press meet, the private hospitals in Kathmandu on Thursday claimed they have established fever clinics, and isolation wards and ICU beds for the suspected cases as per the directive of the government.
But, one of the members of the Association of Private Health Institution of Nepal (APHIN) said that medics who are handling suspected COVID-19 cases do not have required protection at some hospitals.
“The hospitals have set up fever clinics as per the directive of the government. But, the hospitals barely thought about the safety of health workers,” the member said, adding that at some private hospitals medics are not provided with the PPE.
“The morale of the medics is already low as they have been watching and listening to the news about the deaths of medical staffs in Italy and Spain. Though the government has ensured to provide PPE tools within a few days, the medics are still collecting swab samples by wearing only masks and gloves,” the member said, adding that there is a shortage of even masks and gloves, and the ministry has not cooperated properly for a smooth supply of the protective gear.
In the meantime, the government has provided Rs 1 million each to nine private hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley to make necessary preparations to treat COVID-19 cases.
“As there has been an acute shortage of medical supplies, we have started producing PPE on our own,” Dr Shail Rupakheti, managing director at Star Hospital, told Republica.
Though private hospitals have set up isolation wards, they are not allowed to admit a person who has tested positive for the coronavirus. As per the directives from the government, the swab samples should be sent to the Teku-based National Public Health laboratory for coronavirus tests. And if the cases test positive, the patients should be referred to government-recommended four hospitals – Teku, Patan Hospital, APF Hospital and Kanti Children's Hospital.
Likewise, Hemraj Dahal, general secretary of APHIN, said that private hospitals are ready to tackle the situation. “The institute has already requested its member health institutions to provide proper health services to the suspected cases of coronavirus,” Dahal said, adding that the rumors that private hospitals are not checking COVID-19 suspects are not true.
A few days ago, the government had directed hospitals with 50 beds or more to suspend non-urgent health checkups until April 12 to get prepared for testing suspected cases of coronavirus.