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Ahmedabad: Covid cases decline but demand for critical care beds on the rise

On the other hand, there is a decline in demand for isolation beds in city hospitals where the percentage of vacant beds has gone up in the past 10 days from 17 to 35 per cent.

Hospital staff of SSG hospital in Vadodara celebrate Mothers Day inside the covid ward and extend warmth to the patients under treatment. (Express Photo by Bhupendra Rana)

Even as the number of Covid-19 cases in Ahmedabad city has been declining this month, the demand for ICU and ventilator beds has gone up, mainly due to the influx of patients from nearby rural areas, according to officials.

On the other hand, there is a decline in demand for isolation beds in city hospitals where the percentage of vacant beds has gone up in the past 10 days from 17 to 35 per cent.

With the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) removing restrictions on admission to only Ahmedabad residents on April 28, following observations by the Gujarat High Court, city hospitals are getting more patients from other districts.

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“The situation for ICU beds with and without ventilators has gone up. More patients are coming from surrounding districts and even from Saurashtra, mostly from rural areas where there are no facilities. Beds in private hospitals are more in demand,” said Dr Bharat Gadhavi, president of Ahmedabad Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (AHNA), which has been maintaining a daily status of beds in hospitals across the city.

The 900-bed Dhanvantari Covid Care hospital set up recently by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO-GU) and Gujarat University, too, has been witnessing demand from neighbouring districts and rural areas.

“There are patients from districts such as Mehsana and Patan unlike earlier when the hospital was only taking Ahmedabad residents. So certainly the demand for oxygen beds has increased and we are trying to operationalise more beds at the earliest,” said principal secretary education Anju Sharma who is managing the hospital.

The hospital with all oxygen beds has around 560 patients, of which more than 100 are in ICU.

Hospitals claim that this has been the case for the past 10 days. The cases reported from Ahmedabad city declined from 4,980 on May 1to 4,174 on May 5. It further declined to 3,884 on May 6 and 3,744 on May 7, while 3,359 cases were reported on May 8. On Sunday, the city reported 2,883 cases.

With cases declining, the pressure on hospitals beds was expected to ease out. However, ICU beds are on high demand at present, with hardly any vacant bed for a month now.

“We were hoping to have vacant ICU beds with the decline in the case load. At present, patients who were in home quarantine or on oxygen are being shifted to ventilators and ICUs,” said Dr Kirit Gadhavi, president of Ahmedabad Medical Association (AMA).

On May 1 and 2, when no ICU bed was vacant in city hospitals, 17 per cent isolation beds were vacant in private hospitals. This increased to 21 per cent on May 4, while no ICU bed was available.

On May 5, when the cases dropped to 3,884, the percentage of unoccupied isolation private beds was 23 per cent with 620 of 2,671 private beds vacant. This was when barely 2 per cent of ICU beds on AMC quota were vacant against 0 per cent on private quota.

“Despite the decline in cases by 30-40 per cent in the past one week, demand for ICU beds has gone up by 20-30 per cent. Against this, ward beds are getting vacant with not much demand,” Dr Bharat Gadhavi added.

On May 8, against 3,359 cases, while 35 per cent of 2,732 isolation b eds in private hospitals were vacant, it remained 2 per cent of ICU beds with and without ventilators.

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