Clinics report huge rush as people line up for long-delayed treatments
Dentists, ophthalmologists and other specialists are reporting a glut of patients who want to get procedures done before the predicted third wave of COVID-19
Janaki G.S., a homemaker and senior citizen, had been waiting anxiously for easing of lockdown restrictions. Her dentures had broken over two weeks ago and there was no way of fixing it since dentists had shut shop. “I spent two harrowing weeks eating soft food, like idli and ragi mudde apart from liquids. The first thing I did on Monday was to go to my dentist,” she said.
With COVID-19 cases on the decline and restrictions relaxed, hospitals resumed elective procedures and physical consultations after over two months on Monday. Dentists, ophthalmologists, orthopaedicians and other specialists are reporting a glut of patients and long wait for appointments.
Dr. Rajashekhar, President, Karnataka Ophthalmic Society, said there was a long queue of patients who have been waiting for treatment of cataract, diabetic retinopathy and other issues. With predictions of a third wave of COVID-19 in two months, patients want to get their eyes checked, and take up elective procedures within the next eight weeks. “As eye infections are one of the symptoms of black fungus and, apart from that, some patients are developing eye issues post COVID-19, many patients who have recovered from COVID-19 are turning up for a check-up. Students, who have been attending online classes for months on end, are coming to get their eyes checked,” he said.
Appointments with dentists are hard to come by. Many dentists were consulting online and managing patients, but all physical procedures had to wait during the lockdown.
“There is a huge backlog of patients who needed procedures like root canal, tooth extraction and other procedures, but were made to wait till Monday. Now we are scheduling appointments based on severity of each case,” said Dr. Sudarshan Sajjan, Secretary, Indian Dental Association, Bengaluru. He also reported several black fungus cases being diagnosed at dental clinics. “I diagnosed two cases from among my patients on Monday. Back fungus can affect the jaw and gums, which many assume to be a dental problem,” he said.
However, Outpatient Departments (OPD) in government and private hospitals have only seen a marginal increase of walk-in patients, but that is expected to change by the end of the week.
B.R. Mohan, Resident Medical Officer, K.C. General Hospital, Bengaluru, said the hospital had seen an over 10% rise in patients at its OPD over the last two days alone.
Dr. H.S. Prasanna, President, Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes’ Association (PHANA), said regular patients have started seeking follow-up appointments with their doctors. It will take nearly a week for restoration of normalcy.
“The government is yet to release all the beds it had taken over during the peak of the second wave of COVID-19. As far as I know, it has been two weeks since they referred a patient to a general bed, and at least two days since they referred anyone to an ICU bed, except in Mysuru where cases are still high. We will write to the Health Minister to release our beds so that we can serve other patients. The government can take back the beds if cases rise again,” he said.