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 Table of Contents  
COMMENTARY
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 114-116

Role of medical institution amidst the crisis: Sustaining the academic milieu and contributing to components of COVID-19 pandemic response


1 Department of Community Medicine, JSS Medical College, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysuru, Karnataka, India
2 Department of General Medicine, JSS Medical College, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysuru, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Biochemistry, JSS Medical College, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysuru, Karnataka, India
4 Department of Community Medicine, School of Public Health, JSS Medical College, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysuru, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission14-May-2020
Date of Acceptance15-May-2020
Date of Web Publication04-Jun-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Anil S Bilimale
Department of Community Medicine, JSS Medical College, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysuru, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijhas.IJHAS_115_20

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  Abstract 


In early March 2020, the whole world was startled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Amidst the crisis, a private medical college relentlessly worked toward sustaining the academic momentum and contributing to the mitigation of COVID-19. The areas of involvement were as broad as it had its roots. Educating the larger public through schools, colleges, and primary health-care centers was initiated. The hospital was operationally segregated into COVID and non-COVID zones. The screening centers and isolation wards were made operational. The health-care personnel were trained and motivated. The outreach and public health activities were in tandem with district health priorities, namely mass screening, health system strengthening at district COVID hospital, answering public queries, panel discussions, webinars, and TV shows. Apart from these activities, teaching and learning went on, as usual, using online platforms. Research, innovations, and publications were accomplished without interruption.

Keywords: Academic sustainability, COVID response, hospital preparedness, outreach activities


How to cite this article:
Bilimale AS, Hathur B, Suma M N, Murthy M R, Kulkarni P. Role of medical institution amidst the crisis: Sustaining the academic milieu and contributing to components of COVID-19 pandemic response. Int J Health Allied Sci 2020;9, Suppl S1:114-6

How to cite this URL:
Bilimale AS, Hathur B, Suma M N, Murthy M R, Kulkarni P. Role of medical institution amidst the crisis: Sustaining the academic milieu and contributing to components of COVID-19 pandemic response. Int J Health Allied Sci [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Jul 2];9, Suppl S1:114-6. Available from: http://www.ijhas.in/text.asp?2020/9/5/114/285958



On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) reiterated all the member countries to take immediate actions and scale up their response to detect and contain the virus transmission to save people's lives.[1] The WHO declared the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and directed to treat this as a global pandemic by March 11, 2020. Further, India reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on January 30, 2020. A medical student returning from the Wuhan University of China to Kerala state was tested positive. Subsequently, two more cases were reported in early February from the same state.[2] This tally increased substantially in subsequent months to a total of 77,729 confirmed cases and 2535 deaths as of May 13, 2020.[3] The first case in Karnataka was reported in March, and over 2 months, the numbers have climbed to 951 cases with 32 deaths till May 13th, 2020. Mysuru, a district situated in the southern part of Karnataka, known for its heritage and culture reported its first case on March 21, 2020. After a sluggish start, the number of cases in the district increased quickly to reach the tally of 89 by mid of April with no deaths so far.[4]

Mitigation of COVID-19 demands intersectoral, interdisciplinary, and multipronged approach. Medical colleges of both government and private sectors play a vital role in this process. JSS Medical College, a premier health-care and research institution affiliated to JSS Academy of Higher Education (JSSAHER), shouldered this responsibility with the district health administration and efficiently delivered the tasks assigned to it. In this commentary, we will be discussing the role played by JSS Medical College in mitigation of pandemic at district level through its systems approach without compromising its academic milieu.

In February, well before the first case was reported in the state of Karnataka, the institution took the initiative to educate the public and school children on prevention and control of COVID-19. The medical college was offered representation in District Task Force on COVID-19 to provide technical guidance and support in combating the pandemic.

As a part of preparedness toward handling the crisis, situation analysis of the hospital was conducted to understand the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats by involving all the clinical, nonclinical departments and the paramedical staff. The Department of Community Medicine and Public Health undertook this activity using standard checklists from the Centre for Disease Control and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Subsequently, a panel discussion was conducted by involving the experts from the field of microbiology, community medicine, general medicine, pulmonology, and hospital administration to cement the approach. On March 24, a FLU clinic was established in JSS Hospital. Patients were screened at the hospital entrance using a standard checklist and thermal scanner, adequate physical distancing was created in waiting area, triaging was done to differentiate and isolate the suspected cases of COVID-19, and critically ill patients were shifted through dedicated lifts to identified intensive care units. The departments which contributed significantly toward these endeavors are emergency medicine, general medicine, pediatrics, microbiology, intensivists, and ENT.

The nationwide lockdown was implemented from March 24, 2020. As an emergent response, a COVID-19 screening center was established at JSS Hospital. A dedicated multispecialty team was setup. A nodal officer was identified to act as a liaison between hospital and district health authorities. The Hospital Infection Control Committee started training the medical, nursing, and Group D staff regularly on COVID-19. Stockpiling and auditing of disinfection and infection prevention materials were undertaken periodically. The biomedical waste management team was trained, and aggregated wastes were disposed of according to the standard safety protocols.

The onslaught of fresh cases in Mysuru leads to a revision of layout and protocols to expand the facilities including separate screening area, isolation ward, triage, lift, and ICU. Duty roasters for postgraduates (PGs) and consultants were revised and updated. The training under the iGoT platform, as per MoHFW instruction, was provided to all faculties, PGs, and interns.

A series of public health and outreach activities were undertaken across the district before and during the lockdown:

  • Nanjangud Cluster Containment – Nanjangud, a town in Mysuru district, turned out to be a hotspot of COVID transmission. PGs from the Department of ENT supported in the screening of contacts by collecting the throat swab for testing
  • The Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health undertook the following initiatives.


    1. District COVID hospital – Faculty members and PGs worked as a part of screening team at designated COVID hospital, provided inputs toward preparation, training, developing protocols, communication materials, human resources, and consumable estimation, quality improvement, and auditing activities
    2. District health administration – Contact tracing through telephonic conversation with the confirmed cases of COVID-19 (primary and secondary contact) and entering data into the software, designing a questionnaire, and regularly discussing the different models of COVID response from various countries
    3. Corona helpline at District Control Room – PG students addressed the queries of the public concerning testing, public gathering, do's, and don'ts during and before lockdown
    4. Faculty members were involved in training NSS volunteers, community social radio, urban local bodies, taluka level officers throughout the state in collaboration with UNICEF, State Institute for Urban Development, Administrative Training Institute, and National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj.


Dissemination of technical information

Illustrious speakers and technical experts took the lead to address the concerns of people and medical fraternity through various webinars, editorials, panel discussions, and technical reports. The messages spread by these experts reached masses through renowned news channels such as NDTV, News One, and various online platforms.

Academic initiatives

Adhering to the motto of learning never stops at JSSAHER, online academic sessions were initiated for both undergraduate and PG students. Faculties were adequately trained on conducting online classes, and students were also sensitized on the same. Meanwhile, online assessments and modifications in the examination patterns were brainstormed and necessary materials were produced.

Research activities

To efficiently utilize the lockdown period, faculty members undertook short-term research projects through online surveys, submitted research protocols for funding agencies, and prepared and submitted their research work as scientific publications to various journals. There were few innovative ideas which were executed. The Institutional Ethics Committee conducted an online meeting to clear the research protocols submitted to them.

Leadership

In this situation of crisis, the leadership of JSSAHER adapted and updated itself to hold the grip on the situation through expert consultations. Meanwhile, second-level leaders were kept in the loop and ensured everyone is safe and at the same time prepared to respond. Mental health counseling and seminars were arranged to prepare faculty to deal with stress. Transparency was maintained at all levels. This exemplary leadership helped the faculty to work with a high level of spirit in the difficult days.


  Conclusion Top


COVID-19 created an avenue to show the ability of a private institute for playing a major role in providing helping hand in such challenging situation and a huge public health crisis through a thorough plan of resources and aid in the betterment of society along with sustaining its academic and research milieu in momentum.

“Amidst the crisis, finding a way to be productive and useful was the motto of our institution.”

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
WHO Timelin. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/27-04-2020-who-timeline-covid-19. [Last accessed on 2020 May 13].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Timeline of the COVID-19 pandemic in India. In: Wikipedia; 2020. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.p hp?title=Timeline_of_the_COVID-19_pandemic_in_India& oldid=956475420. [Last accessed on 2020 May 13].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Coronavirus in India: Latest Map and Case Count. Available from: https://www.covid19india.org. [Last accessed on 2020 May 13].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
COVID -19 Government of Karnataka-Official Dashboard. Available from: http://covid19dashboard.karnataka.gov.in/. [Last accessed on 2020 May 13].  Back to cited text no. 4
    




 

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