Dengue, viral flu and hospital corridors flooded with patients

Wijeratne Gunawardana (56) of Beliatta came to Colombo National Hospital (CNH) seeking advanced treatment for his son Shan’s (28) kidney ailment. By the time the Daily Mirror met him at the OPD of CNH on Thursday, it was 11.50 in the morning. Father and son were waiting until the doctor would call them with the ticket that carries the number 726.

“We in fact came to Colombo on Wednesday and stayed overnight at a relative’s place as it is impossible to come to the CNH on time all the way from Beliatta. However, we have been waiting for the doctor for more than five hours but the doctor has not turned so far,” visibly dejected Gunawardana said.

The father and son are further worried that they will have to remain in Colombo for another day.

This is the normal situation we confront at almost all state hospitals and the situation is worse during an outbreak of flu or any other communicable disease which is being experienced right now.

We witnessed that almost all state and private hospitals, specially the OPDs have been congested with patients suffering from fever either connected to dengue or viral flu.

At the CNH some 1,500 tickets are issued per day at the OPD but in the last few days the ticketing counter has issued over 2,000 tickets with the increase of dengue patients and others suffering from viral flu, counter clerk Asanka Gunasekara said.

“We are working under extreme difficulties as the building that accommodates the OPD is in dilapidated condition. Normally there are over 1,000 patients at the OPD at any given time and they have no even the basic facilities,” counter clerk Mohammed Mustafa lamented.

M.M. Ranjani of Negombo was in a rather pathetic predicament as she had been sent to pillar to post by the time the Daily Mirror met her.

“I first went to Negombo hospital to get treatment for my neurosis depression and was asked to go to Ragama Teaching Hospital (RTH). I was sent to neurology unit of the CNH from the RTH. At the CNH, I was asked to get a ticket from the OPD and when I came to the OPD I was asked to go to the room 33. At the room 33 I was asked to go to room 44 and given a ticket and instructed to see Neuro  Surgeon Dr. Liyanage. I was told that Dr. Liynage would see patients only after 1.00 p.m. and I am waiting for him. It is more than 6 hours since I came to the CNH,” Ranajani said.

At the Lady Ridgeway Children’s Hospital (LRH) the situation was not much different.

Parents with sick children were seen even at corridors. Director, LRH, Dr. Ratnasiri Hewage said the number of indoor patients have been increased in the last few days.

“But we have provided maximum possible patient care with new machines and health care management. We have installed patient monitors at every ward to check the condition of sick children constantly. Facilities have been provided to give ICU treatment to sick children who are kept in normal wards when ICUs are over -crowded,” Dr. Hewage said.

Dr. Hewage reiterated the health warning that patients adults or minors must not be given any drug other than the prescribed dose of paracetamol when they have a flu.

The maximum dose of paracetamol given to an adult is two tablets of 500 mg three times a day in six hour duration. It is 15 mg for a child weighs one kilogramme. For instance, parents must give only half of a paracetamol tablet to a child who weighs about 20 kilograms.

“It is highly advisable to see the family doctor as a flu can come in many forms these days with the escalation of the number of dengue patients reported. If the fever does not disappear in two or three days even after prescribed treatment, the patient must rush to the hospital immediately as it could be dengue or viral flu. A blood test is necessary to determine the virus if the fever does not come down in three days,” Dr. Hewage said.

Dr. Hewage said the ICUs at the LRH have become over crowded with the steadily increasing number of fever patient sat the LRH.

“But we have provided ICU care to all that needed special treatment at normal wards equipped with ICU facilities. All wards have been provided with’ MEC – 2000 PATIENTS MONITORS’ that would monitor the patient round the clock,” he said.

With the help of the machine the doctor can provide ICU care to the child when necessary, Dr. Hewage said.  

Meanwhile, Colombo South Teaching Hospital Director Dr. Anil Jayasingha yesterday said there were about 70 patients suffering from dengue and some of them were with viral flu.

“There was an increase of the number of fever patients admitted to the hospital in the last few days” he added.

Deputy Director in charge of the OPD at the CNH commenting on the congestion at the OPD said arrangements have been made by the Health Ministry to construct a new building for the OPD.

The Health Ministry expects to lay the foundation stone before the end of this year for the four storey building to be constructed at a cost of Rs. one billion. The new OPD at the CNH will be opened by 2015, he added.

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