Awareness needed on triaging to treat COVID-19 positive patients

Though majority of the COVID-19 treating hospitals in Coimbatore district are running at their full capacity, awareness among the public on the need to follow triaging – deciding the order of treatment – seems to be low.

The city has four triage centres – ESI Hospital (ward 64) at Singanallur, Ramanathapuram Corporation Mandapam (ward 69) near Olampus, St. Francis Convent School (ward 73) on Trichy Road, and GCT College (ward 21) on Thadagam Main Road.

Corporation sources said a person who has turned COVID-19 positive after having given sample in a private lab or a government health establishment is contacted by the Coimbatore Corporation.

Staff from the ward or zone concerned, upon receiving the list of positive persons in the city, call every person on the list advising them to visit a triage centre, preferably the nearest one.

At the triage centre, doctors test the positive persons oxygen saturation level, respiratory rate, blood pressure and sugar. Depending the results of the above tests and the symptoms narrated by them, the doctors ask them to remain in home quarantine or go to a COVID Care Centre or get admitted to a hospital.

If the positive persons preferred admission in a government hospital, then the staff at the triage centres arrange for an ambulance and send them to the hospital that showed bed availability.

If persons who had turned positive preferred to go to private hospitals without turning up at triage centre or if they wished to avail of medical service in private hospitals after visiting triage centres, the triage centre staff clearly indicated to the positive persons that they would have to find hospitals with free beds.

The triage centres referred positive persons to only government health establishments or COVID Care Centre, the sources added. In areas outside the limit of Coimbatore Corporation in the district, triaging is currently done by the block primary health centres and the field staff according to G. Ramesh Kumar, Deputy Director of Health Services.

The PHC staff either do house visits for the triage based on the COVID-19 test result they receive from testing facilities or do the triaging over phone.

“COVID-19 cases in rural areas are scattered in nature. Health inspectors able to track cases in their limits and ensure the triaging.

The public can seek advice by dialing 1077 if they are not contacted by the Health Department,” says a senior official with the Health Department.

According to the official, calls received at 1077 are now being categorised as green (home isolation), yellow (referral to nearest triage) and red (immediate hospitalisation).

The COVID-19 war room can also be reached at 0422 2301114 to get advice of experts after getting tested positive for the disease. Two major COVID Hospitals (CHO- for severe cases) in the government sector namely the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital (CMCH) and the Government Medical College and ESI Hospital had been running at their full capacity, especially ICU and oxygen beds, in the last several days.

Hospitals say that patients with mild or moderate COVID-19, without complaints of comorbidities and alarming drop in oxygen saturation level (SpO2), are being brought, mainly due to the anxiety of family members. This leads to unwanted crowding and occupancy of beds in hospitals, reducing the number of beds which could otherwise be used for severe cases of COVID-19, they say.

A senior doctor from CMCH said that several patients brought to the hospital are being referred to COVID Health Centres (CHC- for moderate cases) and COVID Care Centres (CCC – meant for mild cases) as they do not meet the criteria for admission in the current situation. Some patients are advised to remain in home quarantine.

“Such patients can ideally be taken to the nearest triage to seek advice on the treatment instead of rushing them to CHOs like CMCH or ESI Hospital,” the doctor says.

A few private hospitals said that their doctors were offering tele- consultation too for patients who are in home isolation.

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