After Kiran Sharma delivered a pre-term baby on November 17, the worried couple admitted their critically low-weighing newborn at Malad-based Evershine Nursing Home. A week later, when Rs 50,000 ran out for intensive care unit admission, Sharma started looking for economical medical facilities.
Even as the baby battled a bacterial infection, the couple was forced to inquire separately at Nair, KEM, Sion and J J hospitals for an ICU availability. Finding all hospitals full, they individually registered in each hospital’s waiting list.
“She weighs only 1.5 kg and the doctor asked us to transfer her to better ventilator facilities. We cannot afford private care,” Sharma said. The couple eventually discharged their baby for home care.
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In an attempt to ease the process for such patients, a proposal has now been floated in the civic body’s health committee meeting to create an exclusive helpline for patients to enquire which civic-run hospital has an ICU or ventilator available. The proposal, first introduced two years ago, is finally coming through with Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) tying up with an NGO to run a helpline service for bed-availability information.
According to Dr Anuradha Pednekar, a member of public health committee, the idea is to ease the process of hospitalisation for economically poor patients. “I have come across several cases where patient’s relatives run from one public hospital to another looking for beds. The situation is worse with ICUs since only a few BMC hospitals have them,” Pednekar said.
In her proposal, Pednekar has asked the BMC to keep updated information on the number of ICU and ventilator beds each hospital has and the number of beds vacant at any given time. The helpline will work for neonatal intensive care units, surgical intensive care units, cardiac intensive care units and medical intensive care units along with ventilators.
According to Dr R N Bharmal, dean at Nair hospital, the hospital has close to 50 ICU beds for various purposes. Combined with other major hospitals like KEM, Sion, and Cooper, there are over 250 such intensive care beds for patients. The helpline will be functional for four medical colleges and 18 peripheral hospitals in Mumbai where advanced facilities are available.
“The proposal is still in its initial stage. It will definitely help emergency cases, specially help avoid any waste of time. We will take help of an NGO to work out finer details of how the helpline will function,” Bharmal said.