When the first national lockdown was announced on 13th August, one of the safety measures that Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) put in place was to stop any food or other items entering the hospital building by the patients or their attendants to minimize the risk of virus entering the hospital.
Since then the hospital provides different food for the patient and for the new mothers who deliver in the hospital. Since no one can move around during the lockdown, the government has asked hospital to provide food for the patient and their attendant and in some cases, two attendants for one patients. No food is allowed and in fact nothing is allowed from outside.
Medical Superintended Dr Gosar Pemba said the hospital cooks for on an average 1,000 people, both patients and their attendants in a day. Earlier, the hospital cooked food for about 300 to 350 people. They provide hypertension diet for the patients with hypertension and these patients will get a low salt diet. For diabetic patients, they are provided with diabetic diet and for the normal patients, a normal diet.
And for women who deliver in hospital, the hospital provides soup immediately after the delivery and following the day, they can ask for food little different from the normal patients. However, Dr said a pregnant women after the delivery should take the normal diet and nothing extra, it is just a belief that a women after delivery should eat extra special and nutritious food.
Due to Covid-19, it has become difficult to get meat items but eggs are plenty. Dr Gosar said the hospital is providing meat twice a week, if it’s available. Eggs are plenty, so they provide eggs twice a week and for some patients who need eggs for nutrition, the hospital provides eggs every day. From the hospital point of view, the food provided are a nutritious diet. But the problem with people is if there is no chili or if the curry is not spicy, they cannot eat, so that’s why, hospital even started providing ezay, the Dr added.
“We agree that it may not be of their choice or their taste, and there will be always few people complaining of food. But from the hospital side, the standard of the food provided is quite good,” he said.
Dr Gosar shared the challenges saying although additional cooks have been recruited but cooking for more than 1,000 people is very difficult, and there is difficulty in getting items in the market and finally, out of a thousand people there will be few people complaining about the food and hospital has been receiving complaints.
However, he said the good thing now is that the hospital is much cleaner and there are not many people inside the hospital unlike in the past.
Meanwhile, few of the pregnant mothers and patients who were discharged recently said the food provided by the hospital is nutritious and good.
A mother of a one-year-old toddler, when her son was admitted in the hospital said it is free and people should not be complaining about the food. Similarly, a new mother who recently delivered a baby said, the hospital food is good. Right after the delivery, she was provided with nutritious soup and rest was a normal food but it was good. In the morning, fry rice and milk tea are provided and in the lunch, rice, dal and vegetables and eggs are given.
While, a new mother who delivered a baby during lockdown said it was difficult for her to adjust hospital food. She said being a first time mother, it is believed that right after delivery it is important to eat healthy and nutritious food but due to the lockdown and no outside food allowed, she had to adjust with whatever food provided was by the hospital.