Bhutan evacuates referred patients from CMCH Vellore

The cost for management of each Covid-19 patient at the hospital is Nu 1.2-million besides difficulty in finding apartments for isolation

Lhakpa Tshering

Considering the unfortunate pandemic scenario in India, 32 people including 12 referred patients were evacuated from CMC hospital in Vellore, India in a special chartered Drukair flight on 14 May.

Among them, 12 are patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) pre-transplant, post-renal transplant, kidney donors, oncology, and the Eye and Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT). 

The other 16 passengers are their attendants and four are staff from the health liaison office at Vellore Tamil Nadu.

The Medical Superintendent of Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) Dr Gosar Pemba said the referred patients had to be evacuated following a suspension of surgery in CMC hospital in Vellore.

He said it has currently suspended the kidney transplantation programs at Vellore hospital. “The other patient is a cancer patient who started on first cycle chemo and the treatment will be continued here,” he said. “One patient was offloaded because he was not fit to fly.”

“If we are not getting any treatment, there is no point in keeping them down,” Dr Gosar Pemba said, adding there is also a risk of infection and death among patients.

The Liaison Officer of JDWNRH, Pema Gyeltshen, said that the patients will continue receiving treatment in the country till the Covid-19 situation improves in India. “We have brought the medicines that were unavailable in the country for three to six months of their medication,” he said.

On being asked if there are active Covid-19 cases among the passengers, he said, most of them were recovered from the Covid-19. “Currently, there is no active case among them,” he added. “They are being managed in the quarantine facilities.”

According to sources, two Bhutanese patients who were tested Covid-19 positive with symptoms have been moved to MIOT International hospital in Chennai because of the unavailability of beds in hospitals at Vellore.

Sources say that the cost for management of Covid-19 patients at the hospital is very expensive with each patient costing Nu 1.2-million besides difficulty in finding apartments to isolate the patients.

And also pool vehicles from the liaison office have been provided for transportation of patients from respective apartments to the hospital for medical service since there are no transportation facilities during the lockdown.

Tamil Nadu imposed a complete pandemic lockdown for 14 days from May 10 till 24 May to stop the spread of Covid-19 infection in the state owing to the rise in Covid-19 cases.

The surgical procedure, for now, has been suspended due to the rapid rise in Covid-19 cases in the hospital including the hospital staff. 

Meanwhile, there are some Bhutanese referred patients in Kolkata hospitals. Dr Gosar Pemba said while there is no evacuation plan yet, it will depend upon the severity of the situation.