With an increasing number COVID-19 cases spread through community transmission, JDWNRH hospital has changed their testing method from Antigen to RT-PCR testing so as to ensure zero transmission in the hospital.
Patient who need to be admitted along with their attendants are tested for COVID-19 before allowing them inside the wards. It is found that Antigen testing sometimes gives false negative, which is why they are being cautious.
Officiating Medical Superintendent, JDWNRH, Dr Sonam Gyamtsho, said that the whole idea is to make the hospital free of COVID -19.
He said, “It takes 6 hours to obtain a RT-PCR result, and we cannot keep them (patients) waiting for the result the whole time. So, after collecting their sample, we either ask them to wait within the hospital campus or we ask them to go home straight. We advise them not to go out into public places, to make sure they do not contract the virus within that time frame. But it solely depends upon the individual.”
It would be hard to watch each and everyone, he said, adding that nevertheless, should there be a report of local transmission in Thimphu, JDWNRH is ready to implement the holding/ containment area system in the hospital, where the patient and attendant will be held until the time of their admission.
The test is conducted batch wise, whereby, if a patient has a surgery the next day, the hospital gets them tested in the morning batch, so that they can get admitted by evening.
However, if a patient needs immediate admission, they would conduct GeneXpert test, which takes 45 minutes to give a result. Otherwise, the hospital suggests doing RT-PCR test, he said.
Due to logistic issues, all the health staff are sent back home after their duty but they have to undergo RT-PCR testing every after two weeks. They are also advised to avoid gatherings for now, and to abide by the stay at home rules.
Depending upon the patient’s condition and physician’s advice, they allow the change of an attendant. However, if the attendants keep changing everyday then it will have a cost implication on the government due to testing system.
As far as possible, they have to keep the same attendant to reduce the risk of transmission and to cut cost, he said.
Meanwhile, he said that many people question the hospital on why food for the patients and attendants are not allowed when soup, water and biscuits from outside are allowed inside.
He said, “The virus may enter through various means, however, we want to minimize the risk of transmission of virus in the hospital, which is why we are limiting the services of bringing things from outside. If allowed, I am sure people would have no limit which may increase the risk of transmission.”
Moreover, this system has helped in maintaining the hygiene in the hospital, and there is a control over the infection. The hospital seeks the support from the people in fighting against the pandemic, he added.