There were a couple of requests from our society members for details about our COVID experience, so I am penning down a few details, which may be useful in case any of our known people have to go through the unfortunate illness.
I had been attending the office daily for a few months since July with all precautions. Since parents are senior citizens, we were careful at home too.
On Sunday night (22nd November 2020), I got a mild fever so I took a crocin and went to sleep. The next morning, I was ok but felt a bit tired so took a leave from work. The same day, I got a call from our HR department that one of the colleagues with who I had been in contact on Thursday had developed symptoms and was tested positive for COVID 19. Office rules required me and my parents to get tested too. I immediately booked a home collection test on Monday.
My fever was already gone on Sunday night with just once crocin and we had no other symptoms except occasional mild cough. Aai seemed to be a bit tired for a couple of days (she was sleeping more than usual).
The lab did the collection on Tuesday afternoon (24th November) and we were awaiting our reports. As a precaution, we decided to self-isolate till we get the reports. On Thursday morning (26th November), around 08:30~09:00 AM, I got the report on the email confirming that all 3 of us were positive. The Arogya Setu App also started showing the updated status based on the registered phone numbers. I called up the central helpline 1075 (mentioned in the Arogya Setu app) to ask for the next steps. They said that someone from BMC will get in touch with us soon.
I sent the reports to our family doctor on WhatsApp and consulted him over the phone for the next steps. Since parents are senior citizens and all 3 were positive, he advised us to get admitted to the BKC COVID 19 hospital so that health can be constantly monitored. We could have chosen to continue self-isolation at home too since there is sufficient space. However, we decided to get admitted mainly due to 2 reasons:
1. Parents are seniors and dad is diabetic. So regular monitoring of vitals could be better handled at a medical facility rather than at home. Any emergencies, if they arise can also be better handled at a medical facility.
2. Deliveries of essentials/medicines etc. could be challenging once the house is sealed off for 14 days.
I requested our neighbour Mr Valanju to get a stock of disposable masks for us to carry during the isolation phase since we were out of stock. He left the package at our door.
One major dilemma that we had was where to get admitted. Naturally, the first thought was to get admitted to a private hospital near home. However, our doctor confidently advised us that the facility at BKC is well maintained and we can safely go there instead of private hospitals. We decided to go by his advice.
When I intimated the housing society group about our status, Dr Mhatre called up and enquired about our reports and also gave his valuable views on the same. He highlighted that we may need a CT scan, which facility may not be available at BKC. Since we did not have symptoms, we still decided to go ahead with the BKC option.
BMC health official came home around 10 AM, took our details and confirmed beds at the facility. He also said that an ambulance would come to pick us up, after which they will sanitize the floor and lift. The ambulance came in around noon, giving us a couple of hours to gather ourselves together and pack up for the stay.
The admission process was extremely efficient. There is an outdoor ward where they took our contact details, close family phone numbers for providing updates. They did an X-ray + Blood test and allocated our beds to us. This entire process took less than 30 minutes. We were also served packed lunch in disposable trays.
I requested them to allocate me the same ward as dad so that we could be together. They facilitated the same. Mom was sent to a ladies ward. During our stay, we were allowed to visit each other, so it wasn’t as bad. We could regularly meet and talk to each other. The facility also has a long lobby, where we could take walks.
They had television sets in the wards too. Most people found it disturbing though, so they did not switch it on except for the first evening. People preferred to find their entertainment in their mobiles, chatting up with each other rather than watching TV.
After a day or so, Mom’s oxygen levels dropped a bit, so they shifted her to a different ward with an oxygen facility. They also did a CT Scan for her (this facility has been subsequently added).
The medical staff as well as the support staff at the facility was excellent across wards. They were very attentive and helpful for any queries. After admission, we also got an SMS with a link to check our reports online. They used to regularly monitor the following parameters:
• Blood Sugar (since we were in the diabetic ward) – thrice a day
• Blood Pressure – thrice a day
• CBC / HBA1C / D Dimer / Liver / Renal / CRP / Interleukin / XRays on a need basis – usually once every three days.
• They also had a daily consultation session for each patient at central cubicles where the counsellor would discuss our health, any concerns, anything else that we wanted to discuss with them.
• They were constantly advising us to be well hydrated and sometimes, also gave ORS to replenish essential fluids.
• They mostly give Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc, Folic Acid tablets + other medicines like antibiotics on a need basis.
• Some patients were given Remdesivir and Fabiflu too.
A typical day used to be like:
• Pre-breakfast medicines
• Breakfast around 8 AM (they usually served Upma, Poha, Idli, Medu Vada across the week)
• Consultation sessions between 10 AM to 12 PM
• Lunch between 1 PM – 1:30 PM (in the diabetic ward, they had chapatis, vegetables and dal. Other wards had rice too).
• Evening tea and snacks around 5 PM (used to be biscuits, dry snacks like masala puri, sukha bhel etc. Nondiabetic wards got Vada Pav and Samosa Pav too).
• Dinner was served around 8 PM (usually same as lunch except for weekends, where we were served Pav Bhaji, Pulao & Raita).
• They ensured that the vegetables aren’t repeated in the same week.
• The food was quite good and on certain days, I ate two lunches too! Sometimes, dad and I shared some extra breakfast too.
• We spent most of our day talking, reading books/newspapers on mobile and getting some good rest.
• They also used to have exercise sessions twice a day – breathing, stretching etc. as a group activity so that we feel active.
• There were days when I clocked over 3 KM morning walks within the facility – it really felt fresh and good when the mornings were cool.
Wards were cleaned several times a day. Bathrooms and toilets were thoroughly cleaned and sanitized in the night between 1 AM to 2 AM (I saw that a few times when I had woken up). Each ward had 2 geysers from where we could get hot water for bathing/washing. They also had Indian / Western toilets which were fairly usable and clean. However, since these are shared, it would be advisable to carry your toilet rolls/tissues just for your own comfort.
Change of bedsheets/pillow covers and blankets was usually alternate days unless someone specifically requested to change (in case of spilling something on bed etc). There were a few mosquitos in the night, so we needed to keep the fans on even if it wasn’t hot. Afternoons used to be really hot, where the fans were much needed.
More or less, the experience at the centre was like a Naturopathy camp without the naturopathy sessions.
We saw many from the same family were admitted to the facility. The overall occupancy seemed to be around 25~30% of the capacity. Overall, this experience started in a panic mode when we got the reports, but it eventually eased out for us within a couple of days. Typically most patients are discharged in 10~14 days’ time. We were delayed due to some pending reports and cut-off timing rules of the hospital.
We were finally discharged in good health on 12th December after the tests were negative and CBC reports were clear. They have called us in for a follow-up OPD visit on 26th December, which we look forward to.
Some Key Information:
We had medical insurance and could have chosen a private hospital too. However, our doctor assured us that it is a good facility, and we can safely go there. I am happy that we went to the BKC facility. There is zero cost involved. Doctors are extremely good, and all treatments and all medicines are free (including Remdesivir for those who need it). Various tests listed above (including CT Scan) are free too. We paid zero cost at the facility. In case someone does not have any serious complications and needs good medical care and facility, we can safely recommend this facility – we saw patients from as far as Thane, Ambernath too. We hear that this facility is more spacious than any other COVID centre being run across Mumbai.
Food deliveries services like Swiggy and Zomato are not allowed, but home food can be dropped off at the gate – they will deliver it to your bed. Since all 3 of us were admitted and we wanted fruits, I requested the hospital authorities to allow only fruit delivery via Zomato / Swiggy Genie and they allowed it as an exception after a few initial issues. They surely won’t allow restaurant food as per rules.
Overall, they take very good care of you. It was surprising to see how well trained the staff was in terms of customer service (if you may call it so). Each ward had one doctor, a couple of nurses and 2~4 ward boys 24x7. They were attentive and helpful to patients even at the night.
During our stay there, BMC was also in touch with us enquiring about our health etc.
This has been an exceptionally long post, but to summarize, we had a positive experience at a government-run facility and would strongly recommend citizens to use it if they do not have any major symptoms or complications.
Addendum: We visited the BKC Covid OPD on 26th December and had a detailed follow-up session. They also did a rapid antigen test (immediate report)+ RTPCR (next day report).