Srinagar: It is 8 in the morning. Tabasum, a psychiatry nurse enters the ward at Srinagar’s Government psychiatry hospital with candies in her pocket to wish her patients good morning and ready them for breakfast.
Unfamiliar with the prevailing situation outside the hospital, the patients admitted in the hospital live in their own world. They know nothing about social distancing, quarantine and the other terms the world has come to know since the COVID-19 pandemic hit it.
And as such, Tabasum, like her colleagues, has to take all the measures to ensure proper hygiene among these patients in view of the epidemic.
“It is time to get ready for the delicious breakfast that is waiting for all of you in the dining hall,” Tabasum informs her patients, many of whom are still in their bed.
The nurses have to be very cautious about the patients’ cleanliness and hygiene.
“During every meal, we have to keep watch on every patient so that they will not snatch other’s food or put their hands in other’s plate,” she said.
“These patients are not aware of the pandemic. For them it doesn’t exist. This puts the responsibility of their health on us. We motivate them one way or the other to wash their hands three to four times a day,” Tabasum said.
Since social distancing is not possible for these patients, the hospital authorities have limited the entry of visitors to ensure patients are safe from the virus.
Dr Yasir, a psychiatrist said that there are around 30 patients in the hospital, many institutionalised for months and years together.
“We receive very less new entries due to the pandemic and in case of any emergency, we keep the new patient separate from the existing ones after proper screening and investigating patient’s travel history,” Dr Yasir said adding they have restricted the visit of the family members of the patients these days to contain the entry of the virus into the hospital.
Dr Junaid, another psychiatrist at the hospital said: “There is a big challenge for paramedics while dealing with such patients. We need to ensure our staff has put on proper protective gear while handling violent patients. Doctors and nurses need to be extra cautious while giving injective medicines.”
He said that nurses have to be extra careful because they spend a lot of time with the patients.
“When they reach home they have to sanitize themselves before interacting with their families,” he said.