Behind the Delhi government’s move to order 33 private hospitals to reserve 80% of their ICU beds for Covid patients is the increase in cases since the beginning of the month as well as the apprehension that people from outside Delhi are occupying ICU beds.
As per sources, 35% of patients on ventilators and 25% of those in ICUs and on oxygen support in Delhi’s Covid hospitals are from other states. At present, there are 15,800 beds for Covid patients, of which almost 45% are occupied. There are 1,287 ventilator ICU beds of which 63% are occupied, while almost 69% of 1,875 non-ventilator beds in the ICU are full.
On Monday, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain had said 1,500 outstation patients are undergoing treatment in Delhi: “People coming from outside prefer private hospitals… They go directly to four-five hospitals they have heard of… Max, Apollo and Fortis. That’s why ICU beds at these hospitals are full.”
The government’s order to reserve ICU beds was stayed by the Delhi High Court Tuesday, which experts say could increase the pressure on the capital’s hospital infrastructure. “If Delhi is expected to provide treatment to patients across North India, we are definitely moving towards a crisis. The exponential rise in bed occupancy is due to patients from outside the city. Since no hospital can deny treatment to anyone, occupancy rate of patients from other states is going up,” said Dr Arun Gupta, member of the second expert committee formed by the government to assess the Covid situation in Delhi.
In June, when there were 9,179 beds, the state government had projected a rise in cases and said the capital would need 1.5 lakh beds by the end of July. At that time, bed occupancy was 53.69%. However, with border restrictions in place, patients were equally distributed between government and private hospitals.
This time, while top private hospitals are running full, beds in government hospitals are vacant. There are 115 hospitals in Delhi offering treatment to Covid patients, of which 19 are government run. Delhi’s biggest Covid-only facility, Lok Nayak, has 2,000 beds, out of which 1,301 are unoccupied. Similarly, hospitals like GTB, Rajiv Gandhi, Hindu Rao and Safdarjung have a fair number of beds available for patients.
“Beds in government hospitals have increased significantly in the last few months. Two more hospitals have been turned into Covid facilities. At present, patients from other states such as UP, Haryana, Punjab, MP, are directly reaching out to private hospitals. Last time, there was no border movement and people were being admitted to both government and private hospitals,” said Dr Suresh Kumar, medical director, Lok Nayak Hospital.
Private hospitals like Max, Sir Ganga Ram, BL Kapoor, Indraprastha Apollo have no vacant ICU beds with ventilators. As per the Delhi corona app, 98 hospitals have ICU beds with ventilators, of which 48 are full.
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