Suspension of elective surgeries affects patients, medical students


Doctors at the Thanjavur Medical College Hospital say patients are affected due to suspension of elective surgeries due to COVID-19 lockdown. While the doctors say it would resume soon, patients continue to reach out to them requesting they hasten the process, medical students too, are losing out on important training, they said.

Speaking to The Hindu, a senior official of the TMCH said that the operation theatres have been closed down and a majority of the workforce, including postgraduate students, have been diverted to the COVID-19 wards or related duties.

"What has happened is that the students are deprived of proper training. Medical Sciences cannot be taught through online classes. Once classes reopen we will have to rush through the training," the doctor said.

A doctor from the Department of Surgery said that most surgeries for cancers and hernias are considered ‘elective.’ "Hernias are of the most common elective surgeries we conduct, but if ignored, obstructions can occur, which is an emergency surgery," the doctor said.

While there are non-COVID beds at the hospital, not too many patients occupy them. The ward, however, cannot be closed down. "There is a sense of fear prevailing among the people. They think if they go to a COVID-19 treating hospital, they will catch the infection, because of which they stay home until it is too late," a doctor said. Despite a low number of patients, all COVID-19 protocol must be followed.

The academic implications on the students are also a pressing effect, the doctor said. "The classrooms could be a potential hotspot. However, practical classes are important. We are hoping to perform elective surgeries within a week, and conduct demonstrations until students can come to classes," they added. When students are allowed, we can conduct practical classes in batches.

Dean, TMCH, S. Ravikumar said that Thanjavur was among the 11 districts which have a heavy caseload and lockdown relaxations are not applicable to our district. "We are yet to get clearance from the Department of Health to resume other services," he said.

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