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A visit to a Government Hospital during Lockdown

Until last Sunday, I was living in my almost corona-proof Gated Society Flat in Mohali. I had no mood of getting out of that safe zone, but, back at my home village, my mother wasn’t in the best of her health. She was a treated TB patient. But now, she was showing the same symptoms that she had shown while getting diagnosed for TB the first time.

I had to get back to my mother for getting her symptoms diagnosed. But, in my perception, strict curfew was in force. So, there wasn’t any feasible way to travel 100 km without getting stopped by the police.

Still, betting on my luck, I left my society at 3 in the morning last Monday. Surprisingly, I didn’t encounter any police check-post. Maybe, it was too early morning or maybe I was lucky because it had rained heavily last night.

I hadn’t informed anyone about my visit at home. So, naturally, my little family there felt surprised. After the initial rush of that meeting, I quickly got myself together because, now, I had to go to the hospital with my mom.

I was honestly kind of scared, partly because I had no idea about her disease and also because I have heard a lot of bad things about India’s Public Health Infrastructure. But, I had no choice because, for Corona and TB, Public Hospitals are our only resort here.

Whatever! we left for the hospital around 8:40 in the morning. The nearest good-enough public hospital was 13.2 km away. We passed through 2 police check-posts. They didn’t stop our vehicle because of some unknown reason. I was honestly relieved with this progress.

At the hospital, I parked the bike at the proper spot and got a parking ticket for Rs 10. Then with the hope that we will get to talk with our regular doctor, we directly walked towards that hospital’s TB Clinic. A good thing in Punjab’s Public Hospitals is that TB clinics are usually located away from the main hospital building. So, you don’t need to stand in long queues or mix up with other people.

But, after reaching the Clinic, I observed that the hospital authority had transformed the TB clinic into a sample collection spot for COVID-19 testing. We could talk with the doctor through a small window. He told us that because of a virus outbreak, along with TB, we should get my mother tested for corona also.

We were asked to go to the hospital’s slip counter. There was a separate window for the people with symptoms of flu. It was probably a slow day, no one else was there to get the slip ahead of us. So, we quickly got a hospital slip by paying Rs 10. Here also, we could talk with the lady giving the slip only through a small window. She asked us to visit the Flu specialist in Room No. 2.

Room no. 2 was an isolated one where a doctor was sitting behind a transparent lamination wall. There was no one ahead of us. So the doctor checked my mother and asked for her symptoms along with the history of any other disease. He also had an infrared thermometer for getting her temperature.

The guy prescribed some tablets and tests for Tuberculosis and Corona. One of his helpers guided us back to the TB Clinic where samples for Corona Testing were to be collected.

We had to wait there for like 40-50 minutes before they collected the sample. They were waiting for more suspected patients to come because the person who collected the samples had to wear some special protective gear.

In the meantime, that helper who had guided us to the TB clinic came back and gave us the tablets prescribed by that doctor. While my mom was waiting to give her nasal swab, I went to the Laboratory to ask if they can collect her sample for TB too. They asked me to come the next day because the time for TB sample collection was up already.

During the wait, people kept gathering, so TB clinic nurses frequently kept asking to maintain distance. Before collecting the sample, they made everybody rub their hands with a sanitizer, provided by them.

We were told that a team of doctors will visit our house if her corona test report comes back positive. Honestly, it was a pleasant visit to that hospital.

The government doesn’t spend too much money on Punjab Health Infrastructure in India. Our country’s basic health parameters are way below the developed ones. There are neither enough beds nor enough doctors in most public hospitals.

During the recent outbreak of COVID-19, we have all seen the lack of PPE for the doctors. But still, the hospitals where corruption is under-control and management is visionary, good things can be noticed easily.

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