GUWAHATI, May 4 - The ongoing COVID-19-induced lockdown has seen patient footfall in the Dr B Borooah Cancer Institute (BBCI) getting reduced to half. For a hospital that sees around 14,000 new patients every year, any slowdown of services for cancer diagnosis and treatment can have a severe impact on the fate of thousands of cancer patients of the region.
The BBCI management compared the hospital statistics of 31 working days before lockdown, i.e., from February 18 to March 24, and 31 working days during the lockdown period till May 1.
BBCI director Dr Amal Chandra Kataki said that during the previous 31 working days, the footfall of patients was 5,961. But the lockdown period saw the footfall drastically reduced to 3,081, a drop of around 50 per cent. Similarly, there was a 56 per cent drop for new cancer patients that underwent radiotherapy � from 330 to 147.
There was a further reduction in the number of chemotherapy cycles from 2,500 to 1,461.
�There was a massive drop of 74 per cent in the number of routine surgeries performed, but there was a significant increase in the number of emergency surgeries. The number of day-care emergencies rose by more than four times from 60 patients in the 31 working non-lockdown days to 236 patients during lockdown. The number of new admission also increased from 983 in previous period of non-lockdown to 1,058 during the lockdown period,� Dr Kataki said.
The BBCI, however, continued with all services same as before. �BBCI sees around 14,000 new patients every year and therefore, any slowdown of services for cancer diagnosis and treatment would carry a significant impact on the outcome of thousands of cancer patients,� he added.
Lauding the efforts of BBCI, Kiran Handique Gogoi, a patient from North Lakhimpur said, �My words are not enough to appreciate the doctors and medical team of BBCI who are providing services during the lockdown and that has helped my early healing.�
Because of the lockdown, all adjacent hotels and other hospitality services were closed down but the three guest houses inside the hospital campus, which could accommodate 105 patients and their attendants, eased the needs of the patients.
�Another advantage was residential quarters for hospital staff, including nurses, office staff, and ward attendants, which ensured seamless travel by the staff for duty without depending on public transport. During the lockdown many patients were stranded at home due to closure of public transport, and hence could not come to BBCI for their routine check-up,� Dr Kataki said.
�For this, 65 doctors of the institute were pressed into action for providing tele-consultation to over 5,000 cancer patients. Many patients were also connected via the institute�s social networking sites and a dedicated helpline number,� he added.
In view of closure of eateries in and around the hospital, arrangement was made for free distribution of lunch and dinner to all outdoor patients and attendants with the help of various NGOs.
The BBCI management lauded the healthcare workers for their uninterrupted service during the period in spite of their personal risk of acquiring COVID-19 infection.