Home-based care of persons with mild symptoms of COVID-19 is slowly gaining momentum in Tamil Nadu. While it comes at a cost, doctors say treating patients at home has its benefits, and very few of them ultimately require hospital admission.
Many patients with mild symptoms choose to stay at home or are advised home isolation based on their vital parameters. For such patients, home-based care helps in more than one way — it offers round-the-clock access to healthcare through tele-consultation and regular monitoring, along with the required support if hospitalisation is needed, doctors say.
The State government’s ‘Amma Home COVID-19 Care Kit’ has covered 370 patients so far. Patients who have tested positive and who have been advised home isolation and anyone with suspected symptoms but with a RT-PCR negative result are eligible for the home care scheme.
“We have covered patients across Tamil Nadu, and also a few of them in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Assam. We send the home care kits through courier to other States,” V. Anand Kumar, nodal officer of Tamil Nadu Government Multi Super Specialty Hospital. The scheme is managed by a 35-member team of the master health check-up scheme of this hospital.
Of the 370 patients, 55 were taken to the nearest government hospital for CT scan, while 48 persons received specialist consultation for diabetes, cardiology and neurology. “Thirteen of them showed early signs of disease progression and were saved by timely admission to government hospitals. Some of them progressed from earlier normal CT scan to mild/moderate lung involvement and showed early signs of dip in oxygen saturation. We have successfully treated 92 patients with co-morbidities and six children who were in home isolation,” he said. He added that patients can call 7338835555 to enrol in the scheme.
Koushik Muthu Raja M., associate professor and consultant, Department of Respiratory Medicine, Sri Ramachandra Medical Centre, said, “We do a risk analysis of patients who test positive. A panel of investigations is done. This includes chest X-ray and blood parameters such as complete blood count, blood sugar and clotting factors and inflammatory markers. If the parameters are within the normal limit, we recommend home care for 14 days. They will have to sign a consent form, undertaking to stay in isolation as per the rule of the government and call up doctors/hospitals in case of any issue.”
Of the 225 patients covered under home care, only three to four required hospital admission. “Except for these persons, all of them were managed at home. One of the biggest advantages is that beds in hospitals need not be occupied unnecessarily and could be reserved for patients with severe infection. The availability of beds will definitely improve as patients with mild disease do not need hospitalisation,” Dr. Koushik Muthu Raja said.
Financial burden also comes down by 70%-80% for these patients, he said. – The Hindu