Currently Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) is referring emergency cases to Guwahati by road due to the deteriorating situation in Kolkata and Vellore. So far 91 patients were referred outside from January 2021 till date. Due to surging cases in Kolkata and Vellore, four patients were sent to Guwahati a week ago.
Medical Superintended of JDWNRH Dr Gosar Pemba said patients who need immediate treatment such as heart patients, bleeding in the brain and other life and death cases are referred outside. The hospital is keeping in touch with other identified hospitals in India and if they accept patients than the hospital will refer patients there provided if there is a flight.
The hospital has also looked into the patients’ referral options beside India. The hospital is looking into the possibility of referring patients to Bangladesh but due to a bad COVID-19 situation, they could not, similarly an eye case was supposed to be sent to Kathmandu but they are also having a bad outbreak, and patient could not be referred.
The only choice is Guwahati where the spread of COVID-19 is not as rampant as in Kolkata and Vellore, and so the hospital there is willing to take in patients and the travels can be arranged from the border and if the situation in Guwahati also deteriorates then the hospital might have to look for third countries.
Dr Gosar said Thailand has already suspended medical treatment traveling to the country and the next country is Singapore. As of January 2021, Singapore has made it mandatory for any person traveling to Singapore to ensure Singapore Dollar 30,000 for COVID-19 treatment which is very expensive. So the only option was referring patients to Guwahati hoping that the situation in other parts of India will improve.
Now Delhi is improving and flights are going there, so the hospital will send patients to Delhi for treatment.
The hospital is also looking to bring in specialists from outside to treat patients that requires emergency referral. But the doctors in India are not willing to come due to various reasons. One issue is that they do not want to stay in quarantine and the other reason is due to worsening COVID-19 situation in India. Dr Gosar said talks are still going on for some private specialized doctors to come in the country.
One of the patients had bleeding in the brain which needs immediate treatment because if the patient bleeds further than even if they survive, the patient may not lead a normal life and another patient had retinal detachment where a person can go blind. So these types of cases are referred in India. Recently the hospital has sent two similar cases to Guwahati and they are back already and are following mandatory quarantine in Gelephu.
Recently a baby with heart problem was airlifted to Samdrup Jongkhar and from there was sent via an ambulance which came from Guwahati hospital to receive the child patient. So similarly severe cases are also airlifted.
52 patients are still in Kolkata; they were sent before the situation in India turned worse.
Meanwhile, the liaison officer of JDWNRH said there are around 10 to 15 patients to be referred outside for treatment, and while these are not emergency cases these patients cannot be treated in JDWNRH.
There are usually a lot of positive cases among the patients and their attendant referred outside, but only few were admitted in isolation ward and the rest were kept in quarantine facilities.
So far no patients referred outside lost their life due to COVID-19 or have become severe except one.