Updated: April 25, 2021 3:37:49 am
As patients and their relatives lined up outside the 900-bed Dhanvantari Covid Hospital in Ahmedabad Saturday, each of them requiring critical care or in search of oxygen-equipped beds, four police personnel deputed at the entry of the swanky facility had a standard response: no patients are being admitted.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who reviewed the preparations at the hospital set up jointly by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Gujarat University and the state government at the Gujarat University Convention and Exhibition Centre in Ahmedabad, had Friday announced that the facility would start operation from Saturday and would provide treatment free-of-charge.
Naranpura-resident Ajay Patel, who had rushed to the hospital for a critical care bed for his relative Geeta Parmar (65), who is on oxygen Support at Ambaji Civil Hospital in Banaskantha, was on the verge of tears when told the facility was not taking any admission. “There is no ventilator at Ambaji. Her oxygen is at 75 per cent. I have been trying since yesterday and have called up at least 50 hospitals here. We saw news reports that the (DRDO) hospital will be functional from today, but now they are saying it won’t. The news reports said a patient has to be first registered and then admitted, but now they are saying admission will only be through 108 (ambulance) or 104 (home isolation patient) services. Where will we get an ambulance from? They (the staff deputed outside the hospital) don’t even have any information on when this will start. If she dies, who will be responsible?” a visibly angry Patel asked.
A little away, relative of another Covid-19 patient, currently undergoing treatment in Vadodara and advised to be shifted to a critical bed, along with Ajay, screamed in anger: “They (the politicians) just cut ribbons. What do we do with that? What was the point of inauguration? Is this an auspicious occasion that they are having an inaugural function? They have just left us to die… Thousand patients must have visited (the DRDO hospital) in hope for a bed already today.”
A policeman, part of the team deputed on the sited to avoid untoward incidents, told The Sunday Express, “This is still manageable. In the morning, there was such a long queue (of patients and their relatives).”
Relatives of even patients admitted in other districts — Mehsana, Banaskantha, and Aravalli, besides Vadodara, united by their search for an ICU bed after either failing to find hospital beds in their respective districts or informed about the lack of vacant critical beds and ventilators – had rushed in to the facility with enquires since Saturday morning, The Sunday Express found out. At least 250 of the total 900 beds at the DRDO facility would be Intensive Care Units (ICU).
On oxygen support at Aman Multispeciality Hospital in Ahmedabad’s Vatva area, Covid-19 patient Yusuf Chabiwala’s (40) friend had rushed to the DRDO facility — the 10th hospital he had approached on the day — after doctors at the Aman hospital informed that the patient would have to be shifted to an ICU bed. When the police personnel at the hospital’s gate told him that they were yet to start admitting patients and the operations was likely to commence operations Sunday, the man fumed.
“No one has any information. They have no idea when the hospital is going to start. They are also saying that admissions, whenever that starts, will only be allowed through 108 (ambulance) and 104 (home isolation patient) services. There is no proper guideline. Hospitals with ICU beds are fully loaded. Everywhere there is a waiting. What do we do?” he said.
Sixty-year-old Yusufbhai Rehmanbhai Vepari, a Covid-19 patient from Kadi in Mehsana, whose C-reactive protein — sign of infection spread and inflammation — was at 130 mg per litre against the normal level of up to 6 mg per litre, had been admitted at a hospital at Detroj in Ahmedabad rural, nearly 15 kilometres from Kadi. His nephew has since been running from one hospital to another in Ahmedabad.
“The hospital in Detroj is doing nothing. They have asked us to arrange for oxygen and we are refilling oxygen bottles from Chhatral (in Gandhinagar) or from Ahmedabad and giving them so that my uncle can keep breathing. One bottle lasts for only two to three hours. The hospital has said either we take him away or keep arranging for oxygen. We have no option. We came here (DRDO hospital) thinking we will get an ICU bed. The doctor treating my uncle has said that he can’t continue only on oxygen and will need to be shifted to an ICU. Where do we go to from here? How do we keep on doing this, travelling 60 kms to deliver oxygen bottles every 2-3 hours?” the nephew said.
In despair, he waves two prescriptions: one dated April 19 states, Vepari’s oxygen saturation was at 72 per cent, and the other, by Amrutba General Hospital where the senior citizen is currently admitted, reads the patient “is in urgent need of Itolizumab injection”. This, too, could not be arranged for, the relative added.
Another patient from Ahmedabad, resting on the rear of a car and trying to breath from an oxygen pipe hooked to a cylinder, was driven to the facility by his brother. After testing positive three days ago, the brothers have been making the rounds of hospitals but to no avail. Like them, several patients, most on oxygen support, continued to stream in at the facility in autorickshaws or four-wheelers. Relatives of another patient in home isolation in Naroda, whose oxygen saturation hovering at around 50 per cent, kept asking leads on vacant beds in the city from passersby outside the DRDO facility.
Senior bureaucrat Anju Sharma, who has been appointed in charge of the administration of the hospital, and will be camping overnight at the site, told The Sunday Express, “Today, we had some issues with the pressure in the oxygen line, so we did not take any admissions. We are trying our best to fix it and I will be here the whole night and mostly it will be fixed by the (end of the) night. Tomorrow we are likely to take admissions. We will not be taking direct patients, but only those who come by 108 ambulance, along with an RT-PCR test (or any other evidence of Covid-19, as the state government has permitted, such as Rapid Antigen Test).”
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