Yangyel Lhaden

Dental department of Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) was overwhelmed with continuous appointment calls from 10 a.m until 1 p.m after the hospital resumed its regular services on September 7.

Receptionist at dental clinic, Phurpa Wangdi, said that the department saw more than 250 patients. Normally, not more than 200 visit the department.

The patients availed “simple” dental procedures, as complex dental procedure like root canal treatment once started would not be able to continue if there happened to be another lockdown.

About 1,100 patients visit JDWNRH every day.

On the first day, the hospital’s ten departments out of 20 departments recorded 1,197 patients.

The general outpatient department (OPD) and Community Health Centre recorded the highest number of patients—226 and 343. The psychiatric department recorded 36 patients.

Medical Superintendent of JDWNRH, Dr Gosar Pemba, said that the number would increase for next few more days.  “People were waiting to avail the health services.”

Dr Gosar Pemba said that the hospital would provide regular health services but it would pose challenges to health staff if numbers increased.

He said. “When movement of people and vehicle is allowed, hospital cannot disallow people from visiting hospital.”

During the lockdown, emergency cases were referred to hospital. Tele-consultation services were provided to general public and patients requiring treatments, for example, cancer treatment and dialysis were continued.

He said that the country could go back to normal but the people must adapt to new normal and the people would be advised to follow “new normal” rules and regulation of the hospital.

“Apart from health protocols for Covid-19, people should, for example, come to hospital only when necessary, come alone, do not loiter around with friends and gather in canteens. One should immediately go home after availing the services from the hospital, and  should not bring children if they are not sick,” Dr Gonsar Pemba said.

Records from March until July

Health attendance record with JDWNRH between March and July recorded that on an average over 1,100 patients visited daily; around 30,000 monthly visited the hospital.

Most patients visited community health, general outpatient and dental departments. The community health department provides primary health care services to pregnant women, maternal health related services, and children below age of five. The psychiatric department was the least visited.

However, after March 8, the country saw the highest number of patients at the flu clinics—5,694. The number of patients visiting the flu clinics decreased gradually over months—April (1,294), May (921), June (755), which increased in July (1,459).

With the outbreak of Covid-19, people were sceptical to visit hospital fearing that they would contract the virus. The health record showed that number of patients decreased in April (28,935) from March (33,495), but from May the number of patients returned as in normal times until July.

From March to July, more than 176,000 patients visited JDWNRH.