THE DELHI government on Friday told the Delhi High Court that more than 50 per cent of ICU beds in 168 major private hospitals of the capital will remain available for non-Covid patients even when 80 per cent of the beds are reserved for Covid patients in 33 of those health institutions. The HC last month had stayed the government order in which the state directed 33 major hospitals to reserve 80 per cent of ICU beds for Covid patients, in a petition filed by Association of Healthcare Providers (India). The government, in its September 12 order, had also permitted the 33 hospitals to increase their total bed capacity by 30 per cent.
During the resumed hearing, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain sought modification of the stay order, as he submitted that cases are likely to go up in wake up of the upcoming festive season. However, Justice Navin Chawla adjourned the matter to November 18 to allow the petitioner to respond to the government reply. Advocate Sanyam Khetarpal for the Association of Healthcare Providers sought a week’s time to file the reply.
The government in a reply told the court that there are 1,263 registered hospitals and nursing homes — 88 government and 1,175 private — in the state. There are 168 registered private hospitals, including the 33 in question, which have a capacity of 25 or more beds. The total capacity of ICU beds comes to 3,239 in these 168 hospitals. The order is not applicable to more than 1,100 health institutions, leaving them specifically to cater to the needs of non-Covid patients, as per the reply.
“If all the 168 private hospitals are considered together, the total ICU beds available for non-Covid patients would come to 1,712 out of 3,239, which is more than 50%,” the reply filed through the state Director General of Health Services Dr Nutan Mundeja reads, adding that information on availability of ICU beds for non-Covid patients in all these 168 private hospitals will be shown on the Delhi Corona App in real-time.
It also said that the Covid-19 ICU bed capacity has increased by 556 beds — from 875 on September 9 to 1,431 on September 22 — in the 33 hospitals as a result of the September 12 order, and almost 500 patients have been able to secure admission in the beds there on the strength of that state order. The situation would have been “alarming” had these hospitals not been directed to increase the number of ICU beds in the hospital at appropriate time, the government said in the reply.
Explaining its decision, the government said some of the top 33 private institutions had an occupancy of Covid-19 ICU beds ranging from 0-35% on September 1 and the same jumped to as high as 96-100% on September 11. After the government order on September 12, as per the reply, the occupancy of Covid-19 patients grew rapidly in the 33 hospitals — from 715 out of 875 to 1,098 out of 1,431 total Covid ICU beds in the 33 hospitals.
The state also said that no patient suffering from a critical illness other than Covid-19 has objected to the government order or complained of having been harassed or deprived of necessary medical treatment. It also said that out of the total Covid hospitalisation cases of 5,676 on October 7, 1,173 cases pertain to those from outside Delhi.
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