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Hospital OPD footfalls drop as heatwave sweeps Kolkata

A private hospital in the city said it had half the patients in its OPD on Monday — the season’s hottest day with the mercury touching 41.7 degrees — compared with other Mondays.

Other hospitals, too, have seen a dip in patients’ footfall in the OPDs over the last couple of weeks. Officials and doctors blamed the excessive heat for the drop in the OPD turnout.

At most hospitals, patients are preferring to visit OPDs in the morning or the evening. Many are calling up hospitals and rescheduling their appointments.

Some of the hospitals are also extending the OPD timings in the evening.

At the RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences, the OPD footfall has gone down from 1,500 on an average on other Mondays to 750 on Apil 29.

“The sharp dip is because of the heat as many patients who have booked slots for routine follow-ups and those who are not having any emergency are not turning up,” said R. Venkatesh, group COO, Narayana Health, which owns the RN Tagore hospital.

“We have also extended the OPD timings till late in the evening and have requested doctors to stay back if they have patients in OPDs during that time,” said Venkatesh.

Peerless Hospital usually has 1,200 patients at the OPDs on Mondays. This Monday, the footfall was around 900.

“The concentration of patients in OPDs is in the morning and evening. During the day, the OPDs are almost deserted because of the heat,” said Sudipta Mitra, chief executive, Peerless Hospital.

“There is a dip in the number of patients from districts. Along with the heat, election is a factor that has reduced the flow of patients from districts,” said Mitra.

At the three AMRI hospitals in the city — in Dhakuria, Mukundapur and Salt Lake — around 1,200 patients visit the OPDs on an average on Mondays. This Monday, the count was 1,070, said an official of the group.

“We are getting calls every day from patients, requesting for a change in the timings of appointments,” the official said. He, too, said most patients are coming between 9am and noon and after 5pm.

At government-run hospitals, too, the heat is impacting the OPD footfall.

Around 800 patients turn up for OPD consultation at the School of Digestive and Liver Diseases in SSKM Hospital. The number went down to around 500 on Monday, said a doctor.

Patients at government-run hospitals have to stand in queues for hours for OPD tickets.

“This is also forcing some people to avoid coming to the hospital now,” said the SSKM doctor.

The heat has also affected hospital admissions.

At the AMRI Hospitals, the number of planned surgeries has gone down by around 25 per cent in the last couple of weeks, said an official.

At Peerless Hospital, the bed occupancy is only 70 per cent.

“Many patients are deferring admissions because of the weather conditions. We are getting some of the repair and refurbishment work done now because of low occupancy,” said Sudipta Mitra of Peerless.

Usually, such major repairs are taken up during the Puja holidays when occupancy rates are low.

“We are refurbishing some of the rooms. We were unable to do that earlier because of high occupancy,” he said. Telegraph India

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