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Chennai govt hospitals reserve beds to meet heatwave-related exigency

With temperature levels staying high and warnings against heat-related illnesses being issued, some of the major government hospitals in Chennai have geared up with preparatory measures by earmarking beds to treat patients coming in with heat-related symptoms.

Hospitals are also focusing on educating persons walking into their facilities on the do’s and don’ts to prevent heat-related illnesses.

At the Government Stanley Medical College Hospital, Dean P. Balaji said a few patients had reported to the outpatient department and emergency department with heat-related symptoms and were treated as outpatients.

“Symptoms with which most patients presented are excessive sweating, muscle cramps, tiredness, fatigue, giddiness, nausea, and headache. They were dehydrated and were treated as outpatients,” he said. The hospital has earmarked 10 beds to handle any emergency situation.

Bhavani, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at the hospital, added that they started to see patients from the last week of April. “Patients complain of exhaustion and unknown reasons for headaches. This occurs in extremes of age – very old persons or young children. Next, when temperatures rise, exaggerated physical activity can also have an effect on people,” she said.

“In the triage area, the patient’s temperature is checked, and we look for skin rashes, dry skin, or heavy perspiration, headaches, dizziness, nausea, and symptoms of dehydration,” she said, adding that recognition of symptoms is vital. Ice packs have also been kept ready to reduce the temperature in patients.

The Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH) has kept five beds ready in the intensive care unit, Tower Block 1, for patients with heat-related symptoms. Hospital Dean E. Theranirajan said a team under the Department of Medicine and involving multidisciplinary specialists were in place.

“We have kept wet blankets and ice packs ready in the casualty block. We have also provided oral rehydration solution (ORS) in the casualty and outpatient blocks. We have sensitised our staff on the various methods to cool the body when a person comes with heat-related symptoms through a continuing medical education programme,” he said.

At least 15,000 outpatients along with their relatives walk into the hospital for outpatient services. To educate them about preventing heat-related illness, the hospital has put up charts on the signs and symptoms of heatstroke, heat cramps, and heat exhaustion and the dos and don’ts at the three tower blocks, he added.

Nellaiappar, Director and Medical Superintendent, Government Royapettah Hospital, said they had allotted 10 beds and provided ORS at the outpatient department. “Our staff, including head nurses, medical officers, and residents, are creating awareness among patients. We have sufficient intravenous fluids. The Directorate of Medical Education had issued instructions a week ago, following which protocols have been put in place,” he said.

He added that patients with co-morbidities such as severe diabetes, hypertension, and those on medications for cardiac ailments as well as persons working outdoors should take precautions. The Hindu

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