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Friday, May 1, 2009

City hospitals gear up to fight swine flu

Kasturba Hospital sets up special 16-bed ward, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Hospital sets up 24-hr helpline for worried travellers

Thirty-two-year-old Zia Jain had planned a summer vacation in America with her two children. However, she planned to cancel the trip after reports of the outbreak of swine flu. She isn't alone.
    Many hospitals in the city are busy attending to calls from worried travellers. In the last three days, the BMC-run Kasturba Hospital at Saat Rasta has received nearly 45 calls from flyers enquiring about vaccines they ought to take before heading out of the country. "We have clarified that no such vaccine is needed," said Ravi Kadam, deputy superintendent of the hospital.
    The Kokilaben Dhirubhai Hospital, Andheri, has even set up a 24-hour helpline (30696969 or 30999999) for worried travellers. The call attendants will give up-to-date information on the status of the disease at various travel destinations and also give travel advice for pregnant women, newborns, children, elderly people and those with chronic diseases.
    Dr Tanu Singhal, in charge of the travel clinic, said, "I advise people to not travel unless it is an emergency, and even then to take precautions (see box)."
    Additionally, a special 16-bed ward has been created at Kasturba Hospital to cater to those suspected with swine

flu. Special training has been given to doc
tors and nurses.
    Besides the hospital, only the Haffkine Institute at
Parel is equipped to deal with the problem.
    Authorities say the ward has facilities for all tests – from portable X-rays to ventilators. "An air-purifying machine has been installed in the ward. Anyone entering the ward has to wear a protective uniform.
Doctors are given a HAPE mask – specially designed for when they collect throat swabs from patients," said Dr Umesh Aigal, superintendent of the hospital. The hospital had earlier also catered to patients infected with SARS and bird flu.
While doctors recommend to stay in the country till the swine flu is brought under control, for those who can't avoid it they recommend:
Avoid travelling if sick Take adequate travel insurance prior to travel Heed to local health warnings during travel Sneeze or cough holding tissue paper on the nose and mouth and then discard it in a trash can Wash hands regularly Consult a health practitioner in the event of sickness

A Kasturba Hospital nurse puts on her protective uniform, which is to be worn before entering the special ward and (inset) Dr Tanu Singhal, in charge of the travel clinic at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Hospital

Dr Ravi Kadam of Kasturba Hospital wearing a HAPE mask, which is to be worn while taking throat swabs from patients

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