Health officials urge people to seek medical services

Nima Wangdi

With not many people coming to Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH), the national referral hospital looks almost empty by afternoon these days.

Sources said many people are not availing of health services because of the fear of contacting the Coronavirus as there have been cases of health workers in the hospital testing positive for the virus.

Pema Choden, 49, said she was in the hospital recently undergoing surgery and she heard about many health workers who tested positive then.

She said she goes to the hospital only when necessary.

Pema said she also has unvaccinated children and elderly people at home. “I don’t come to the hospital like I used to do before.”

Pema Zangmo, 26, from Paro had come to the hospital.

She said she had to bring her sick child to the hospital. “I stay at home when I get sick.”

Health care service providers said the number of patients visiting the hospital has dropped by 30 to 40 percent today.

They said they are worried about people delaying in availing medical attention. This might delay diagnosis and review for those who are suffering from chronic diseases as well.

Officiating medical superintendent of JDWNRH, Dr Pem Chuki, said many people inquire if the hospital is safe.

She said it is safe for the patients requiring medical attention but can’t guarantee that they won’t get infected given the rampant community outbreak of the virus.

“Everyone has the same risk whether in or outside the hospital,” she said. “From the hospital’s side, all the preventive control measures are followed like wearing personal protection equipment and following hand hygiene.”

According to Dr Pem Chuki, attendants are interacting with each other. “We are now educating both the patient and the attendants.”

She urged people to come to the hospital if they require any medical attention without fear of getting infected with the virus. “Their primary illness might be more risky or serious than the fear of getting Covid-19.”

Dr Pem Chuki said even health workers have concerns about getting infected. “We have vulnerable people at home, some are pregnant, some are breastfeeding, some have chronic diseases such as hypertension and asthma but we still come to the hospital as our top priority is to deliver patient care and health services.”

She said the hospital will continue providing health care services under any circumstance and people should avail them without the fear of the virus.

A Los Angeles Times report cited health experts saying that there will be consequences for deferring chronic disease management.

“Patients with untreated high blood pressure, heart and lung and kidney diseases are all likely to experience a slow deterioration. Missed mammograms, people keeping up with blood pressure control — there’s no question this will all cause problems,” a doctor said.