Hotels have been converted as a COVID Care Centre (CCC)

The kitchen at a star hotel in Guindy is busy as usual. The kitchen staff is busy preparing food and packing them in disposable meal trays. These days, masks and gloves, too, are part of their kitchen outfit. Food trays are delivered right outside guests’ rooms. After all, they are COVID-19 patients staying at the hotel, which has been converted as a COVID Care Centre (CCC) during the second wave of the pandemic. Many hotels in the city are opening their doors to asymptomatic patients and those with milder symptoms as they tie up with hospitals to take care of the patients.

For now, they are CCCs, not hotels, say doctors

The SIMS Hospital in Vadapalani has tied up with Ramada Plaza (PR Grand), Chennai, in Guindy. Explaining the process involved in referring patients for hotel isolation, a senior consultant from the hospital, says, “It isn’t a hotel for now; it’s a CCC. Each patient is screened at the hospital and based on the reports, they are sent there when the hospital is full. It’s like a full-fledged hospital. Oxygen can also be provided there. Blood tests, counselling, yoga, etc, also happen there. The patients who are sent to CCC are those who need medical attention, but don’t require ICU or critical support. Apart from this, people who recover from COVID-19, too, undergo rejuvenation here.”

Dr Roshini Rohit, a gynecologist and obstetrician in the city, along with a team of doctors, is running two CCCs in two city hotels. “One is in T Nagar and the other one is in Nungambakkam. When the Corporation allowed CCCs, there was a demand among families, where either everyone was asymptomatic or only one person was COVID-19 positive. They basically wanted a place to isolate themselves. Then, we managed to find a property and that was how the whole thing started. We’ve registered with the city corporation and have a tie-up with a hospital,” she says and adds, “We’ve one duty doctor each in both the places and they stay inside the hotel. Also, there are six nurses in both the CCCs. The duty doctors are general physicians who have worked in COVID-19 ICUs for almost a year. Every six-seven hours, we check the residents’ oxygen saturation levels, temperature, blood pressure, sugar, etc. Getting a bed right now is difficult. So, we provide our oxygen cylinders that we have as an emergency back-up and later, find a hospital bed and shift the patient there. We don’t handle any critical cases because it is a hotel, at the end of the day. We had a couple of pregnant women at our CCC until we found them hospital beds.”

Hotels dish out a nutritious platter

According to Sandeep Bhatnagar, GM of Ramada Plaza (PR Grand), Chennai, they are providing a ‘medical experience’. “Every meal is planned out meticulously. The dieticians have charted out a seven-part meal plan, starting with kabasura kudineer in the morning to turmeric milk at night. We also have oxygen ambulances, a team of doctors and nurses who stay at the hotel, an emergency ward, a pharmacy, a sample collection station, etc. Thrice a day, doctors monitor the patients and any health concern is immediately addressed. The management also makes comforting calls to all the patients.”

Doctors need to recuperate, too

ITC, on the other hand, is offering isolation packages and accommodation for doctors. Zubin Songadwala, Area Manager South, ITC Hotels & GM, ITC Grand Chola, Chennai, elaborates, “At Grand Chola and WelcomHotel Chennai, we’re providing accommodation to doctors who’ve been assigned duties at government hospitals, at subsidised rates. At ITC Grand Chola, we’ve an isolation package called Rejuvenate and Recharge. It’s not for COVID-19 patients, but for others. For instance, a family who lives in an apartment with too many COVID-19 cases around can opt for this package if they want to be away from home for as many days as they want to, at affordable prices than it generally is during normal times. We’ve also created a bubble for our staff and they stay within the premises. At WelcomHotel Coimbatore, we have tie-ups with two hospitals, and run a CCC. The patients are referred by the hospitals and the treatment is provided by the medical staff of the hospitals at the hotel.”

Does these business remodelling help them in tough times? Sandeep replies, “We are seeing this as a service to the community rather than making any margins. Generally, when a hotel functions, we do banquets, restaurants and rooms. Now, there is zero revenue from restaurants and banquets, which add up to 60 per cent of the revenue.”

M Jayakumar, GM of Jaag Hotel, where Dr Roshni runs one of the CCCs, adds, “Primarily, we’re playing our part in helping asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic patients. On the other hand, it’s also helping us to cover the salaries of our staff.”

Comfortable, stress-free, say patients about hotel isolation

Aneesh Aravind, CEO of an IT company, decided to go for hotel isolation as soon as he experienced COVID-19 symptoms. “When I first tested, it came out negative, but I had all the symptoms. Then, I went for a CT and it showed an infection in my lungs. So, I decided to isolate myself at a hotel as I didn’t want to risk spreading the virus to my wife and kids. A few days later, when I tested again, the result came positive. I was at the hotel from April 27 to May 18. Even after I tested negative, I stayed back for a few more days as a reverse quarantine to ensure the safety of my family. I was taken to the rooftop for fresh air, sunlight and some light exercises. It was comfortable in terms of stay and food, and I also had regular visits by doctors, who ensured I was doing fine. After hearing about hospital expenses from some friends, I felt that hotel isolation was a better deal.”

A resident of Purasawalkam, M Radhakrishnan, also chose hotel isolation even though he only had mild symptoms. “My daughter and I tested positive. So, we chose to stay in the hotel as my wife was negative. We were there for seven days and went home last week. Regular visits by doctors and frequent health monitoring keep stress at bay unlike when you manage it on your own at home.”

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