The Delhi government had to make emergency purchases of 1,000 new beds for dengue patients within a week, as disaster beds reserved for such situations in all state government hospitals only add up to around 150 beds. Sources said disaster beds were purchased the last time in 2004 — over a decade ago.
“Even if we open all the disaster beds for dengue patients, it will be only 150 beds. No purchases were made for disaster wards in so many years. After the dengue season, some of the new beds will be diverted to disaster wards because 150 beds seem grossly inadequate,” a senior health department official said.
In all, Delhi government hospitals have 10,000 beds. Health Minister Satyendar Jain had said on Monday the new beds would be added by Sunday. Many hospitals have sent requirements for new beds already. At Lok Nayak hospital, a space has been cleared near the dengue ward for the extra beds.
Meanwhile, the government directed private hospitals on Wednesday that bed strength be increased by 10-20 per cent and norms for where the beds should be placed relaxed until November 15. According to the health department order, private hospitals can keep the extra beds in wards and if required in “corridors and waiting area for admitting such patients”.
“These beds should only be reserved for dengue patients and should cost less than half the economy section beds at the hospital. Hospitals do not have to add any extra infrastructure, so this should not be a problem,” Jain said.
He added that these beds should be used only for fever and dengue patients. Sources said doctors from dispensaries too were being sent to Delhi government hospitals to help with the crisis. “We are adding beds for dengue but hospital staff is not being increased. In attending to so many patients, there are not enough doctors to attend to dengue patients,” he said.
The total bed capacity of city hospitals is around 50,000, including 10,000 beds in Delhi government-run hospitals and 20,000 in private hospitals. The hospitals run by municipal corporations and the Centre have a capacity of around 30,000 beds.
Meanwhile, Jain also set a cap for ELISA tests for dengue in private hospitals and diagnostic tests at Rs 600. The tests were earlier costing between Rs 1,500 and Rs 3,000. Sir Ganga Ram Hospital chairperson Dr D S Rana said the hospital introduced the revised rates from Wednesday.
“We are also considering setting up tents in the hospital complex to start treating dengue patients,” Dr Rana said.