COVID hampers general clinics

Business City Covid-19 Health

Earnings of general physicians take a hit as the number of patients visiting them decreases.

Mysuru: Dr. Usha who runs Shrinidhi Clinic, in Krishnamurthy Puram in the city keeps her clinic open for the sake of it. She knows patients don’t turn up in large numbers anymore. 

“Unless it’s an absolute emergency, patients don’t come. I used to see at least 15 to 20 patients every day before, and now the number has dropped to four. Sometimes, it’s not even four,” she said. She prescribes medicines on the call at times to avoid patients from visiting her clinic.

Surya Medicals, which is adjacent to Shrinidhi Clinic also suffers because of this. “Sales have gone down because of the clinic. Dr. Usha runs the clinic for just two hours a day, these days,” said Manjunath, the owner. 

Dr. Shashi who runs Pooja Clinic in Jayanagar also faces similar issues. He opens the clinic, leaves the security in charge and attends only if somebody comes, for he knows that the number of patients visiting him has gone down. “I don’t make more than Rs. 200 per day. I also go to KR Hospital in the city, hence it’s not a major issue but if I had depended on the clinic, I would have had to shut it down by now,” he said. 

“Patients with common cold, fever and cough don’t come anymore fearing it’s COVID-19, and sometimes if symptoms are suggestive of COVID-19, they delay in getting a test done,” he added. 

Tangam, a bank officer does not visit a doctor no matter how severe her cold is. “I don’t go to any doctor now. I take medicines on my own, I know what medicines to take without visiting a doctor,” she said confidently. 

Dr. Nayana used to visit Inchara Clinic in Ilwala in the city. She used to visit the clinic as a general physician but quit because no patients turned up. “A nurse looks after the clinic these days, and a doctor visits during evenings now and then, there’s not a lot of work,” she said. 

Doctors who run private clinics don’t go for COVID-19 duty. Given that not a lot of patients visit private clinics anymore, their earnings have taken a hit. 

Nayana continued, “I could go on COVID-19 duty instead of going to the clinic and waiting for patients every day,” she added. She is refraining from going on the duty as she stays with her elderly parents and she’s scared if she contracts COVID-19. 

The issue with private clinics is that some doctors don’t help with COVID-19 duty, explained Dr. Chandrakant Laharia, a public health doctor. “The government has opened up a lot of vacancies, and there is a clear dearth of health staff in the country, and if these doctors who run private clinics feel they’re not making as much money now, they should instead volunteer for COVID-19 duty, that will help the crumbling health infrastructure a lot,” he said.