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Latest hotspot Ludhiana critically short of beds for critical Covid care

Civil Surgeon says district plans to increase Level 3 beds to 1,000.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana | July 31, 2020 11:13:51 am
Ludhiana, Coronavirus Test, Ludhiana Police, COVID-19 Test A health worker collects the nasal swab of a policeman for Covid-19 test at Police Lines in Ludhiana. Express Photo: Gurmeet Singh

While Ludhiana tops the list of districts reporting maximum coronavirus cases and deaths in Punjab, it has only 76 beds earmarked for Level 3 Covid-19 patients needing critical care. Out of these 76 beds for Level 3 patients, only 6 were available on July 29, a Health Department status report released on Thursday said. Ludhiana had reported 2,962 Covid cases and 83 deaths till Thursday evening – both maximum for any district in Punjab.

Out of total 761 beds available for Covid care in the district (450 in government facilities and 311 in private), a major chunk — 685 beds — is for Level 1 and Level 2 patients. The remaining 76 beds for critical Covid care seem too less for this most thickly populated district, which is also a referral centre for patients both from within and outside the state because of the presence of two private medical colleges — the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) and the Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH)

There are three government medical colleges in Punjab which are in Patiala, Faridkot and Amritsar. Treatment of patients in these hospitals is free of cost. But beds for Level 3 patients in GMCs were still available in sufficient numbers as on July 29.

In Amritsar, only 30 beds in Level 3 facilities were occupied, while 83 were vacant. In Patiala out of 103 Level 3 beds, 20 were occupied and 83 were vacant. In Faridkot, 21 beds in Level 3 were available. Jalandhar had 71 Level 3 beds available and only 21 occupied, while Mohali had 77 beds available and 19 occupied in Level 3 facilities.

“Patients prefer to get treated in private facilities as they hear about medical negligence incidents at government facilities like bodies being swapped in Amritsar as well as Patiala. A patient died in Faridkot who later turned out to be coronavirus negative. This may be a reason that people are rushing to Ludhiana instead of GMCs,” said Ranjodh Singh, a Ludhiana industrialist, who has been helping in getting Covid-19 victims cremated.

The hospitals in Ludhiana have been struggling to cope. A Youth Akali Dal leader, Gurdeep Singh Gosha, alleged that DMCH had denied treatment to his relative on July 23 midnight as it insisted on coronavirus test report. The patient, who was complaining of breathlessness, was turned away and died on July 24, Gosha said. “Hospitals should not demand Covid report, but start treatment as per symptoms,” he said.

Also on July 24, a 45-year-old male patient needing critical care could not get a bed in DMCH. The patient was taken to Civil Hospital where he died because of no ventilator. A showcause notice was issued to DMCH by Civil Surgeon, Ludhiana, and the report has now been sent to Director, Health Services, for necessary action.

Dr Rajesh Bagga, Civil Surgeon, Ludhiana said, “On July 24, all Level 3 beds in DMCH were occupied. We have asked the tertiary care hospitals to increase beds in Level 3 facilities now as we have enough in Level 1 and 2. We plan to increase Level 3 beds to up to 1,000 as patients are coming from across the state and even from Himachal, J&K as well.”

But so far it seems, the state government’s focus was only on Level 1 and Level 2 facilities where mild and moderate cases are treated. On July 29 in Ludhiana, 451 Level 2 beds were vacant, while 311 were occupied. On the same day, Jalandhar had 713 Level 2 beds vacant and 161 occupied. In Amritsar and Faridkot, 232 and 224 Level 2 beds were available, respectively. In Patiala, out of 784 Level 2 beds, only 136 were occupied on July 29, while 648 were vacant.

But in most districts, beds in Level 3 category are less than 100. Amritsar has the maximum 113 Level 3 beds. Further, while there are 65 ventilator beds in Amritsar government medical college, 54 in Patiala and 21 in Faridkot, Ludhiana has 32 of them. Health officials admitted that it was high time to boost Level 3 facilities across districts.

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