A shortage of beds for critical care of Covid-19 patients has become a cause of concern for Ludhiana, which reported the highest number of new cases in Punjab on Monday (211), and has been doing so on most days.
Between July 26 and August 2, 131 patients had died in the state, of which almost half (53) died in the district alone.
Following an acute shortage, the number of level 3 beds were increased from 76 to 96 on Sunday, and will further be increased in the coming days. However, even after this, only one bed was available according to the Punjab health department’s Covid status report.
Ludhiana is the district with the maximum private hospitals (7) in Punjab who are treating Covid patients. These hospitals include two reputed private medical colleges, DMCH and CMCH. The district is largely dependent on private hospitals for critical patients. In private hospitals, the number of beds has been increased from 313 to 450, but out of these, 416 were occupied by 5 pm Monday. In government hospitals, out of 450 beds in level 1 (pre-mild or mild cases) and 2 (moderate cases), only 152 were occupied.
Asked about the crisis, Deputy Commissioner Varinder Kumar Sharma said, “We are aware of the increasing number of patients in critical care and they are bound to increase as we share the load of the entire state and not just Ludhiana. This is the reason we are appealing people to take maximum precautions and judge their early symptoms so that they can be managed easily rather than coming to hospitals in the last stages.”
Asked why government hospitals were not equipped for tertiary care even four months after the pandemic began, the DC said, “We have government medical colleges in Amritsar, Patiala and Faridkot for tertiary care. At the same time, we are in talks with more private hospitals who will be creating beds for Covid patients so that critical cases can be treated here itself.”
Recently, a 35-year-old woman from Samrala who was referred to Rajindra Medical College, Patiala, which is 75 km away, and not Ludhiana which is much closer at 39 km, died on the way. Samrala is part of Ludhiana district. Three more patients were referred from civil hospital Ludhiana to Rajindra Medical College, Patiala on August 2 and they died on the same day in Patiala.
On Sunday, 147 people had tested positive in Ludhiana, of which 78 belonged to Ludhiana and the rest were from other parts of Punjab and even outside, who were admitted in Ludhiana hospitals. On Monday, 228 patients tested positive, of which 211 were from Ludhiana. Till now, 3,517 have tested positive in Ludhiana, excluding another 488 who tested positive in the district but are not from Ludhiana. A total of 114 have died, including 9 on Monday. Another 41 people who were not from the district, died in Ludhiana hospitals.
According to the Covid status report, on Sunday, 94 beds in Amritsar, 70 of Patiala Government Medical College and 21 beds in Faridkot Medical College are also vacant. When asked why patients of Bathinda, Sangrur, Patiala, Amritsar and Pathankot etc. are coming to Ludhiana instead of heading to the nearest government medical college, the Ludhiana DC said, “We cannot stop anyone from going to any hospital. However, we are trying to increase more tertiary beds. But even they can also be increased to a certain level. Hence, prevention is better than cure.”
Sources said patients prefer private hospitals because they fear being neglected in government hospitals.
Ludhiana continues to top the list with maximum Covid patients as well as the highest number of death, which has become a cause of concern for not only Ludhiana but also Chandigarh health authorities. “Two days ago, we had persuaded 15 patients admitted in private hospitals to opt for home isolation as they were mild cases so that beds can be made available for critical patients. We are streamlining home isolation and even launching an app which can give an indication of the number of beds occupied and available in a particular hospital, so that patients can decide where to go,” said DC Sharma.
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