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Lack of ventilators, ICU beds, staff in hospitals: A Covid-19 positive family struggles for treatment in Chennai

The family’s elderly couple -- 84-year-old male and 67-year-old female – was refused admission by a private hospital even as it took in two younger family members, a 40-year-old woman and a 25-year-old man.

Written by Janardhan Koushik | Chennai | Updated: June 10, 2020 11:48:33 pm
chennai coronavirus cases, coronavirus news tamil nadu, chennai coronavirus update, covid hospitals chennai, As per the state government website, on June 10 at 6:45 pm, 13 hospitals in Chennai have zero ICU beds and in other hospitals close to 70 per cent of the beds have been occupied.

Four members of a family in Chennai who tested Covid-19 positive are having to run from pillar for the past few days to get treatment for the infection.

The family’s elderly couple — 84-year-old male and 67-year-old female – was refused admission by a private hospital even as it took in two younger family members, a 40-year-old woman and a 25-year-old man.

Two other members of the family who are having fever are currently isolated at home.

The residents of Pammal, after suffering from persistent fever for a few days, approached a private hospital in Manapakkam on Monday. But the hospital agreed to provide treatment to only two of the family members. The two older patients were taken to government hospitals in Chengalpet and Chromepet.

However, the Chengalpet government hospital has now asked the family to look for a private hospital for further treatment of the 84-year-old male, who is critical, as they have enough beds but lack ventilators.

Speaking to indianexpres.com, a member of the family said: “We are struggling for the past three days. We contacted all the nearby hospitals and none of them responded positively. My grandmother is stable, but my grandfather is having shortness of breath. Private hospitals refused to admit my grandfather citing his age and the government hospitals are not able to provide proper treatment because of the ventilator shortage. We are looking for other options.”

She added that the private hospital in Manapakkam has charged close to four lakh rupees so far for the treatment of the two family members. “The private hospitals refuse to take the old patients in critical condition because they fear their reputation will be spoiled if something happens to the patients during the treatment.”

When Indianexpress.com contacted the private hospitals listed on the state government website which keeps a tab on the availability of the number of beds, ventilator, ICU beds, almost everyone said they have shortage of resources.

Even though the website shows there is availability, the hospitals claim they are giving preference to the patients who are already admitted, and that the website doesn’t reflect the current figures.

As per the state government website, on June 10 at 6:45 pm, 13 hospitals in Chennai have zero ICU beds and in other hospitals close to 70 per cent of the beds have been occupied. The ventilator service is also not available in most hospitals in Chennai.

“We don’t have ventilators. Also, there are no individual rooms, only common restrooms are available. For old-aged people, it will be very difficult to use common restrooms,” a senior doctor of a private hospital said.

Another hospital in Adyar claimed they don’t have staff members to provide treatment as they have all resigned.

On Monday, former newsreader and theatre artiste S Varadharajan posted a video alleging that an acquaintance tested positive for COVID_19 and there were no beds available in Chennai hospitals to provide treatment. The video went viral and many supported Varadharajan and cited similar experiences in recent times.

Refuting Varadharajan’s claims, Tamil Nadu Health Minister said there are 75,000 beds across Tamil Nadu and 5,000 in Chennai alone. The government has filed an FIR against Varadharajan under sections 153 (Wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 505 (1) (b) (spreading misinformation with intent to cause riot), 505 (1) (b) (spreading misinformation with intention to cause fear or alarm to public), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and provisions of the Epidemic Disease Act and Disaster Management Act.

The Health Minister on Tuesday said he had met the representatives of private hospitals and requested them to increase the bed capacity for COVID-19 treatment and take in more patients. As of Wednesday, 36,841 persons tested COVID-19 positive in Tamil Nadu, including 25,937 cases from Chennai.

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