The District Hospital, King Koti, is nothing short of a maze for many people turning up for COVID-19 tests with none available to point them in the right direction or guide them on the procedure to be followed.

Fear of infection

Many said the lack of a help desk or sign boards left them clueless, forcing them to spend precious time awaiting help among scores of other COVID-19 suspects. The experience filled them with the fear that they might contract the infectious disease if they already did not have it.

As per procedure, when a person steps into the government hospital, their name, Aadhaar number, phone number and other personal details are noted down. Thereafter, their medical history is assessed to decide if they need a test. If someone needs a test, they are directed to the sample collection point.

However, there is no staff or a display board to explain to them the sequence of the process, or the sections of the hospital where they must report to.

Since many private laboratories have temporarily stopped conducting COVID-19 tests, more people are visiting government hospitals for the purpose. And that means, more people lying in wait. Lack of directions makes people wait longer. Even as physical distancing is considered the only social vaccine for now, taking steps to expedite process of registration, assessing medical history, and testing could greatly help in clearing the crowd.

A health volunteer, requesting anonymity, said after one in his six-member family tested positive, a health inspector visited them but did not enquire if anyone else was symptomatic.

“Two of them have fever. I was scared to call ‘104’ fearing they will come to our home and declare the entire building as containment zone, which will annoy the owners. So, I went to the District Hospital in King Koti on Tuesday afternoon to find out the process,” the volunteer said.

On reaching, police personnel noted down his details and asked him to proceed further. “After that, I was on my own. I was lost. I could not locate a help desk to ask what to do next. A lot of other people were also wandering about, clueless. Upon requesting, police personnel explained the process. Otherwise, there is no proper mechanism to give directions. That should be urgently looked into,” the volunteer added.

Sai Shyam, a private company employee, who went to the District Hospital, had a similar experience. He said that the staff were not present to give directions. “People were unsure where to go, and everyone was standing close to each other,” he said. After he tweeted about the lack of tests among his family members despite his mother testing positive, health staff visited his home to collect samples.

‘Will be addressed’

When the issue was brought to the notice of hospital authorities, they promised to address it. They said upon entering the main gate, one has to take a left and go to the new building located behind an old building for testing purposes. Upon entering the new building, they have to register at Out-Patient (OP) counter and take OP number. “Then they have to proceed to the triage where doctors will assess their medical condition and contact history to decide if they need the test,” an official at the hospital said.

Similarly harrowing experiences of helplessness were also reported by those visiting the Sir Ronald Ross Institute for Tropical and Communicable Diseases (Fever Hospital) with none to guide them.

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