Railway hospitals prepares for COVID-19 care

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Railway hospitals at Pettah in the capital and Olavakode in Palakkad are gearing up for the treatment of COVID-19 patients to supplement the State’s and Centre’s health-care efforts to contain the pandemic.

With the two hospitals designated as COVID-19 hospitals, the Railways have earmarked 54 beds in the Divisional Railway Hospital at Pettah and 55 at Olavokode to meet the contingencies. The 109 beds are among the 5,000 beds identified in 17 dedicated hospitals and 33 hospital blocks in railway hospitals.

However, the Sub-Divisional Railway Hospital at Shoranur under the Palakkad railway division has not made it to the list of designated hospitals.

The Railways have begun steps to upgrade the facilities in the two hospitals and recruit additional doctors and paramedics. The personnel will be hired on contract basis at the divisional level for three months through an online recruitment process for meeting the contingencies, Divisional Railway Manager, Thiruvananathapuram, Shirish Kumar Sinha says.

For the Pettah hospital, the authorities will need 24 doctors and 128 paramedics while 32 doctors and 110 paramedics will be required at the Olavakode hospital. The selected personnel will be empanelled by the Railways and will be given consolidated pay.

Steps have been initiated to procure ventilators, PPEs and medical equipment like potable X-ray and ultra sound and defibrillators to meet the needs of the two railway hospitals. The Railways have plans to lay oxygen and suction pipeline in the two railway hospitals to ensure piped oxygen to all the 109 beds.

Separate entrance will be created for COVID patients at the Olavakode hospital, as only 55 of 100 beds are earmarked for them, Palakkad DRM Pratap Singh Shami says.

The existing staff have been trained to take care of COVID-19 patients with 200 training sessions held at Pettah hospital alone. “We have taken steps at the reception, the sample collection centre and at the pharmacy to ensure social distancing norms and to avoid physical contact with the patients. Out Patient section will be functioning, but non-COVID patients will be referred to empanelled hospitals,” Dr. Anu Peter, Additional Chief Medical Superintendent in-charge, Thiruvananthapuram division, says.

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