A few doctors are still Covid-shy
Many doctors in private hospitals and clinics who were not seeing patients physically have started doing so after getting the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine but a few are waiting for the second jab before resuming in-person consultation.
Among those waiting for the second dose before seeing patients in their chambers are some top specialists.
During the lockdown triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, most patients were not turning up for consultations and many doctors were either not seeing patients or doing only video consultation.
But the outpatient departments at most hospitals and clinics reopened after Durga Puja with doctors resuming seeing patients physically. However, officials at several hospitals said on Thursday that despite the vaccination drive for health workers and a steady decline in the number of Covid-19 cases, a few doctors were still not agreeing to start in-person consultations or perform surgeries and other procedures.
Among those doctors are internal medicine experts, gastroenterologists, neuro-physicians and general surgeons.
A senior physician attached to several big private hospitals in the city had a few thousand patients, most of them suffering from chronic illnesses, waiting to consult him after the lockdown was over.
The elderly doctor, who has comorbidities, has been administered the first dose of a Covid vaccine. “He is still not agreeing to see patients physically and is waiting for the second dose,” said an official of the one of the hospitals the doctor is attached to.
“Till the beginning of February, some of the doctors were not physically seeing patients at the OPDs. After taking the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, some of these doctors have started coming to the OPDs,” said Sudipta Mitra, the chief executive of Peerless Hospital.
“However, there are still a few senior doctors who are not seeing patients. Many patients are calling up the hospital, desperately seeking appointments. Since these doctors are not available, we are slotting them with others.”
Some other private hospitals are also facing the same problem.
“Although most doctors are physically seeing patients, there are some senior doctors who are not doing so. These doctors are telling us that they would see patients physically only after they have taken the booster dose of the vaccine,” said Pradip Tondon, the chief executive officer of Belle Vue Clinic.
A person will get the booster dose 28 days after the first dose.
“We can request doctors to see patients, we can’t force them,” said Tondon.
Doctors said during the lockdown, when a large number of Covid cases were being reported every day, they were doing video consultations under compulsion.
“Ideally, for a new patient, a doctor first has to know the history, then clinically examine the person and finally go through the medical reports to come to the conclusion about the disease and the possible course of treatment,” said a senior surgeon.
Clinical examination, he said, is most crucial to find out the condition of a patient.
“One can note down the medical history of a patient and go through the reports during a video consultation, but clinical examination is not possible,” the surgeon said.
Officials of several hospitals said the footfall of patients at the OPDs had almost reached the pre-pandemic level. At one hospital off EM Bypass, 500-odd patients are turning up at the OPD daily, compared with the 650-odd on an average before the pandemic.
On Thursday, Bengal recorded 206 Covid cases and four deaths. On October 4, the state had recorded 3,357 cases with 62 deaths.
Several doctors and healthcare workers have died of Covid in Calcutta and other parts of the state.
“Despite Covid, all our senior doctors are seeing patients. There were elderly doctors who were on duty in the Covid wards,” said Rana Dasgupta, the chief executive officer of Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals.