On Wednesday, 23 June, I went to a hospital in Mandi, a small town in Himachal Pradesh, with my sister for an RT-PCR test, as she needed a COVID-negative report to enter her college.
Like the rest of the country, we too were happy about the reducing case load after a deadly second wave. We had thought that getting a test would be easy now. Unfortunately, both my sister and I were seriously mistaken. At the hospital, not only was there mismanagement of crowd, there was also negligence by the staff itself in following COVID-appropriate behaviour. It took us over five hours to get one test! This makes me wonder how we will conquer the next wave, whenever it hits.
The following were the events of our day.
We reached the hospital at 10:30 am. There was a big crowd outside the hospital because a lot of people wanted to get a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT). We got ourselves registered and started waiting for the assigned officials to submit the registration slips to for my sister’s RT-PCR test swab. Forget social distancing, there were no arrangements for people to sit and wait. People had to stand inside the hospital premises, while some were outside, awaiting their turn.
We had to wait till 11:15 am, when the assigned official came, to submit the registration slips.
What’s worse is that the hospital’s staff members weren’t even wearing their masks properly. All the people who needed to get their RT-PCR test done gathered around the official, without maintaining any social distancing.
The official himself did not ask people to keep a distance. We were told that they would start taking the samples at 12:30 pm. But with the time came, they tested those who wanted to get a rapid test and couldn’t in the morning slots. Then, we were assigned the 2 pm slot. So, people who needed to get their RT-PCR test had to wait another hour-and-a-half.
Once again, when the clock struck 2, people formed a huge crowd where we were told to give our samples. Funnily, there was no one to control the crowd or take samples. Everyone waited till 2:30 pm and some people even left.
A team of doctors and helpers arrived at 3 pm and they had already shuffled the registration slips. My sister was supposed to go first as per the original order. This was unfair to us. They started calling people randomly and nobody cared to keep the distance, except one doctor who asked the crowd to do so once.
This whole process lasted till 3:30 pm and people finally got their tests done while some of them had already returned home disappointed, hoping to get a test the next working day.
This entire experience left me bitter and scared. I returned home with a headache, and thought I had caught the infection at the hospital. The fear was such that I immediately showered and changed out of the clothes I was wearing.
It felt worse that even after going through so much, people or authorities had not learned about social distancing and how harmful it could be to not wear masks properly and follow COVID-appropriate behaviour. Hospitals, especially, should have a optimised system of testing, so that there is minimal waiting time. Moreover, if doctors or other medical staff don’t educate people unwilling to follow COVID norms, who will?
(The author is a student in Himachal Pradesh and wishes to stay anonymous. All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)