An AC Hospital Experience

The New Normal…

At the entry, a security guard approached me probing the purpose of my visit. Besides gloves and masks, he sported a special kind of head gear that covered his entire face and neck with a transparent shield. The kind I had seen mechanics sporting in welding workshops. It’s called a face shield, I learn later. White squares were drawn on the ground at appropriate distances, where people waited for their turns.

Just before the entry door were a series of tables, again situated at appropriate gaps, that had forms and pens. There you need to fill in responses to specific questions pertaining to your personal information, like, name, gender, phone number, and generic health related questions. At the entry door, there were people wearing the same kind of welding headgear with a thermometer in their gloved hands. You hand over the slip, your body temperature is recorded, and depending on the reading you can proceed towards your destination.

A little bewildered, I stared at everything in amusement. I had seen such images in the Internet and in television news snippets. So, it wasn’t like I was seeing all of it for the first time. But, like everything else, experiencing something first-hand gives you a whole new perspective.

I was at Fortis Hospital yesterday where I had an appointment with my doctor for a certain health issue. The hospital is just 2 Km. from my home and it’s been my go-to-place for anything and everything for a very long time. This was the first time I was visiting the hospital in AC (After Covid-19) and every single thing was different and weird. Needless to say, it felt like I was in a Sci-Fi movie setting.

As I walked past the doorway, I cast a glance at my right where the reception is located. A transparent plastic sheath acted as a curtain between the ones providing the service and those seeking the service. I went to the basement section where the Out-Patient-Department (OPD) is located. Similar scenes there as well. You wait for your turn at the reception and billing on marked white squares. A transparent plastic sheath forms a barrier between you and the OPD reception. A small opening allows you to make the payment.

Outside the doctor’s chamber, the line of chairs for the patients to sit was no longer there. The alignment of the chairs had changed. There were very few chairs waiting in isolation placed at a distance from one another.

When my turn came, I went in to find my doctor sitting inside a transparent plastic sheath that formed an enclosure around her desk and chair. A small opening allowed my arm through for her to check my blood pressure. She asked me to lay in the examination bed for further investigation. The same transparent plastic sheath enclosed the bed. I accessed it through one end, which remained open. Again, a small opening allowed the doctor’s hands to examine me physically while the plastic sheath formed a barrier between us.

It was a very strange experience. Felt weird, like a dream. But no dream this was!

Author: neelstoria

Traveling, Gardening, Trekking, Hiking, Storytelling, Writing, Nature, Outdoors, Yoga, DIY

22 thoughts on “An AC Hospital Experience”

  1. These are no ordinary times, people remain the same but outlook has changed. Everyone is a potential threat – a carrier of a deadly virus. For once, everyone is treated like an accused. Whom should we blame? I guess the situation. I also made a visit to the dentist today and saw him wrapped up in protective clothing, double face mask, head cap, and a face shield. This is a new reality!

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    1. We will get used to all this, I guess. No other way. Next time I visit a doctor, I will not be so surprised. These are premier hospitals, hence everything was regularised as much as possible.Wonder how the scenario would be in govt. hospitals. Though in Bangalore, my experience of specialised govt. hospitals (cardio and neuro) have been very good but that was before Covid.

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      1. I agree. This is a new normal, at least for quite some time. I’m sure the government hospitals are also geared up but private ones tend to be a lot more stringent in following the process. Take care, Neel

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  2. It is a really strange time – and so interesting how fast our cultural expectations have changed. Ideas of how close is too close to stand, whether someone should or should not be wearing a mask and the like have changed in just a matter of a few short weeks.

    I haven’t gone to the doctor yet but it’s definitely changed. Sage went to the dentist to deal with an issue that came up just last week and it was surreal – similar to yours. In her case there were no other patients there, lots of PPE were worn, and she had to sign a release saying “I understand that dental procedures create aerosols that can linger in the air after patients leave the room and thus my risk of infection is increased.” A little scary but also making me think – of course this was always the case at the dentist. So were we always risking colds and other afflictions by going there? Of course we were but it only just occurred to me.

    Today marks the day when we go to the next level of easing of lockdown. Still our province has hundreds of new cases a day so we’re not out of the woods yet but it does feel like progress. May it continue here – and around the world as well.

    Be safe!

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    1. That is so true, about the aerosols, we really never used to think that way. I think we should trust our immune system maybe like we did before. Though this one goes beyond all that. In the hospital, I thought people visiting had higher chances of contracting, much more than the staff considering that we were just shielded with our masks and using our sanitizers. But doing anything more is not practical at all. All hospitals in Bangalore have also started online consultations and you can visit in person only if really required. My sister had tried it for a problem she had and it was back during the first phase of lockdown. It wasn’t great and she finally had to visit the hospital.

      Starting yesterday, we are also into our next level of easing. Almost everything has opened up. It’s a little worrisome now.

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      1. I’ve heard mixed reviews for telemedicine. I think it’s likely really great for consultations about renewing prescriptions for chronic issues. I’m not so sure about ones like “I feel dizzy” or “I can’t hear so well out of my left ear.”

        I suspect in the absence of a vaccine, we’ll be doing a bit of a dance: opening up a little, then locking back down then opening up – managing the load on our healthcare system as we all get exposed, get sick and immune. Our system didn’t get overwhelmed (yet?) and so fatality rates have been relatively low outside of long term care homes.

        I’m both worried and excited for easing the lockdown. I miss seeing friends and there are things I’d like to do other than the necessities I’ve limited myself to. At the same time, I worry about another surge. I guess we’ll see how it goes.

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        1. At an individual level, we just have to balance it out. Exercising caution and restraint while taking advantage of the opening up. India, I don’t think will go for a lockdown anymore, given the current economic situation. So, we have to take whatever comes our way, while keeping our elders safe as far as possible. Many of us feel that possibly we have already been exposed but remain asymptomatic.

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          1. I think we’re heading in that direction also. I’m reasonably sure I was exposed and was symptomatic at the end of January. I’m not confident enough to take no precautions.

            I think we’re also all getting better at taking precautions that are less disruptive but more effective. Masks, less full offices (for example, ours may have reduced capacity with different groups working from home on different days) and of course more cycling less public transit are easy things to do that don’t cause lots of disruption.

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  3. Our first encounter with the current situation was an appointment with a specialist. When we arrived, we stayed in our car and called the office number. Someone took our information over the phone, and when they were ready for us to come in, sent us a text. When we got to the door, a masked nurse confirmed we too had masks, took our temperatures and directed us to a hand-washing station before we were taken back to see the doctor. A dozen years ago, we would not have had smart phones; I wonder how it will all be handled a dozen years from now.

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    1. That seems to be a completely different system. And maybe not quite feasible here with the large number of people visiting at a given point of time. But it’s a good one, reduces one’s chance of coming in contact with unknown surfaces. The lesser we need to visit a doctor this year, the better it is 😀

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  4. Interesting. It’s good they are being so cautious. Very soon medical care will be greatly different. Artificial Intelligence robots will be scanning our bodies for exams and doing surgeries. There will be a lot less human/doctor contact. And when they start injecting ID chips into us for our “medical records” that will be mind-boggling. Here is a great article about it: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/09/how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-the-microchip/570946/

    Stay healthy!

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    1. This particular hospital I had been too had been using artificial intelligence and robots were scanning incoming patients. I had seen videos of those during the first phase of lockdown. Didn’t see any when I went there yesterday. Not sure what happened. AI can be both good and bad, the latter as they may take away manual jobs. But in the field of medicines, they will perhaps bring about a revolution. Thank you for the article. I’ll go read it now.

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  5. Very strange experience. But this is a new normal we all should adopt. Your write up forced me to put more effort to keep myself fit as I don’t want to visit hospital in such kind of atmosphere.

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