Interview with Sambit Sahu

Interview with Sambit Sahu, Country Director-Healthcare, Sodexo India

Published on : 7/3/20
  • Better armed to meet the COVID 19 crisis

    It would be an understatement to say that COVID 19 has put the healthcare sector across the world in a quandary. But slowly and steadily, the world is rising up to meet the challenges. After the initial shock, the healthcare sector is now better prepared with more testing kits, better infrastructure, stringent safety guidelines and more. In a Q&A with Segment Director, Sambit Sahu, we found out more about the healthcare situation in India, the COVID 19 infrastructure ramp-up and how Sodexo is geared with its quarantine services to serve its clients and consumers better.

    What do you think would be the impact of the current situation on healthcare segment?

    SS: When lockdown was imposed in late March 2020, corporate hospitals were advised to focus on emergencies and delay or postpone any other less critical activities. Therefore, only Cardiac, Oncology, Obstetrics & Gynecology and Lifesaving Surgeries and a few other serious health conditions were given priority. Private hospitals did not witness the regular footfall of patients for almost 2 months. Further, with the rise of COVID 19 positive cases, the government has now decided to have COVID dedicated health centers set up in many private hospitals. This will require private hospitals to revamp their spaces to make it COVID-care compliant. In order to handle the contagion, there has to be change in infrastructure, services as well as staff, keeping social distancing and sanitation guidelines in mind. This entails a substantial investment at a time when business has already suffered in the last two months; a definite reason for stress.

    Given the increase in the number of positive cases, how do you see the situation evolving in India?

    SS: With more and more workplaces now reopening their doors and COVID testing also increasing across the country, the probability of positive cases rising dramatically is quite high. The positive cases are projected to reach almost 1 million in about 8 to 10 weeks’ time. In this case, the number of COVID-positive patients will soon outrun the available hospital beds in government hospitals. Apart from designating private hospitals as COVID Dedicated Health Centers to care for patients with clinically moderate symptoms, the government is also considering hostels, hotels, schools, stadiums and lodges to become COVID Care Centers to serve patients with mild symptoms.

    Many corporates and other institutions are coming forward to convert their facilities into COVID care centers. For example, IT giant, Wipro Limited’s Pune campus will be converted to a 450-bed intermediary care centre soon. Additionally, a 2500-bedded isolation centre is coming up on MMRDA grounds in BKC and NESCO, Mumbai. Other organizations are soon expected to heed the government’s directive for meeting the deficiency. 

    What do you think would be the necessities going forward?

    SS: Now that we have earmarked the space, next we will need to ensure that these spaces comply with National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) guidelines. Appropriate infection control measures will need to be taken. Trained personnel to guide patients towards correct hygiene practices will be necessary. At the same time, adequate stock of PPEs, equipments, tools and other consumables along with bio-medical waste management as per standard guidelines will need to be ensured. Additionally, nutritious food cooked in HSE compliant kitchens will need to be provided to inpatients, doctors, nurses and staff.

    How important is infection control as a service in all COVID care centers?

    SS: The role of customized infection control services, better known as quarantine services, in healthcare institutions cannot be emphasized enough. It is well –established that patients are privy to hospital-acquired infections - also known as ‘HAIs’, with studies showing incidence rates in India varing from 11% up to 83% for different kind of HAIs. And this can be extremely dangerous in the COVID-19 scenario given its highly contagious nature and the fact that frontline healthcare workers are a cohort group with higher risk of infection. Current evidence from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is that Covid-19 is transmitted via droplets when people sneeze or cough. Therefore, there is a strong need for comprehensive environmental services in these care centers to ensure seamless infection control*

    How can service providers like Sodexo provide support? 

    SS: Sodexo already provides Facility Management solutions to hundreds of Government and Private Hospitals, Medical Colleges, PHCs, CHCs, Pharmaceutical facilities, Education facilities, Mining & Offshore facilities and Corporate workplaces across India. In healthcare sector alone, we deliver services to 450+ sites, maintain 52,000+ medical equipment, serve 65,000+ meals, manage 35,000+ linen, and manage 9 million+ square metres space of facility every day. We also provide Food Services at most of these healthcare facilities for patients, students, doctors, nurses, staff and visitors.
    In the recent times, we have been at the frontline, serving COVID 19 positive patients across the globe. We have been active in the UK, Spain, Canada, USA and Belgium. Thus, we already have first-hand knowledge to effectively plan, resource and rapidly mobilize COVID Care Centres, COVID Dedicated Health Centres and Dedicated COVID Hospitals in India.

    What are the highlights of Quarantine Services? 

    SS: The following is a brief summary of our services:

    1. Environmental Cleaning Services – A dedicated on-site team will deliver cleaning services, 24x7, equipped with relevant tools like PPEs, Chemicals, Consumables, Disposables and hospital grade disinfectants. The team will be adequately attired in gloves, masks, eye goggles, face shields, gowns, etc, to guard against infection. Guidelines by NCDC and WHO will be strictly adhered to.
    2. General Duty Attendant Services (GDA) – Our GDAs will work with the nursing team to assist patients at the COVID 19 care centre and support intra facility transport requirements. They will emphasize on Hygiene, Safety, Empathy and Timeliness on priority.
    3. Food Services – We have a wealth of expertise in clinical nutrition and we will harness our experience to deliver pre-packed nutritious food in disposable and microwaveable containers, according to NCDC norms. Food will be delivered from Sodexo’s HSE approved kitchens, and the food waste will be disposed of, according to current best practice recommendations.
    4. Laundry Services – To prevent spread of infection, we will provide laundry and linen services that are compliant, hygienic and quality driven. We have an extensive Health, Safety and Compliance regime with appropriate policies, procedures and training to ensure we comply with Clinical Laundry standards.

    Learn more about Sodexo’s Quarantine Services and other healthcare solutions


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