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Friday, April 16, 2021

A year on, BMC on lookout for doctors, nurses yet again

The city has witnessed a five-fold rise in cases in the past 20 days and the BMC-run hospitals deal with about 80 per cent load of the total number of patients.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai |
March 26, 2021 2:31:07 am

HOSPITALS AND jumbo centres are on a hiring spree for nurses, doctors, ward boys and intensive care specialists as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has started scaling up isolation beds for Covid-19 patients.

The city has witnessed a five-fold rise in cases in the past 20 days and the BMC-run hospitals deal with about 80 per cent load of the total number of patients.

The civic body plans to scale up to 21,000 beds from the existing 13,773 in dedicated Covid hospitals and health centres over the next fortnight. Government jumbo centres, however, are finding doctors and nurses difficult to find. In the past one week, private hospitals have added 684 more isolation beds, including 61 intensive care unit beds.

On Thursday, Mumbai recorded 5,504 Covid cases, taking the active case load to 33,961. BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal said they are making preparations in anticipation of 10,000 Covid-19 cases daily with 15 per cent of them requiring hospitalisation.

Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani held a meeting with all hospitals and jumbo centres on Thursday to assess requirement for manpower, housing, catering and oxygen supply. The BMC had let go of hundreds of contractual staff between November and January, which it now plans to hire back.

At NESCO jumbo centre, of two hangars constructed last year, one has been garnering dust for the past few months. The other one, with 886 beds, functioned with half the capacity due to low hospitalisations since October last year. With a spike in new cases since February, the NESCO centre has now opened its second hangar with 869 beds but is unable to recruit enough nurses and doctors. The centre has 203 nurses and 170 doctors, but needs at least 30 more doctors in ICU and another 30 nurses.

“KEM Hospital recently sent few specialists to work here. Several nurses from Rajasthan joined us too, but before starting work, they need to get registered with the Maharashtra Nursing Council. We plan to open more ICU beds, but we need doctors and nurses,” said Dr Neelam Andrade, dean at NESCO facility.

The BMC has asked the jumbo centres to recruit MBBS doctors for Rs 80,000 per month, specialists for Rs 1.2 lakh per month, super specialist for Rs 1.5 lakh per month and ICU intensivist for Rs 2 lakh per month. Unlike last year when hotel stays were provided, this year the BMC is opting for government buildings to house doctors and nurses. NESCO has made arrangements with the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority for a nearby building to accommodate their staff, if required.

Nurses will be hired on contract basis for Rs 30,000-50,000 a month. An official from the United Nurses Association said nurses are hesitant in joining duties in Pune, Mumbai and Thane over low salaries and delay in payment.

At the BKC jumbo facility, currently 1,206 beds are ready; another 940 will be soon operational. “We have asked Sion Hospital to support us with some staff. We are also hiring from all possible places,” an official from the centre said.

The BKC jumbo facility requires over 100 doctors and 100 nurses. Earlier, it provided stay in Sofitel BKC to its doctors and nurses. They have now been moved to a three-star hotel to reduce cost. “We are offering hotel stay to only non-Mumbai staffers. If cases increase, we may offer stay to Mumbai staffers too,” an official said.

At the Mulund jumbo facility, currently 1,000 beds are operational. This will be scaled up to 1,650 beds in the coming days. The centre has to hire 65 more doctors, close to 80 nurses and few consultant doctors.

“We have 90 to 100 doctors, 100-120 nurses and eight consultants at our facility. Based on 3:1 ratio of patient and nurses in ICU and 8:1 ratio in normal wards, we will need more staff as we increase beds,” Angre said, adding that they are on the lookout for medical staff.

The contractual staff will be housed in an SRA building in Mulund, which is being maintained by T Ward officials. Kakani said they plan to tap into all government guest houses, buildings and institutions to be used as housing and quarantine facilities.

“We will also try to rope in NGOs for staff accommodation, if required. But for now, we are not booking private hotels and lodges. They are expensive to fund for so many staffers. We first want to exhaust all government buildings,” he said. Kakani added that each jumbo facility has been given authority to recruit staff on its own.

In Nair Hospital, the 100-bed isolation facility will be upgraded with 200 beds. The hospital has also sent its senior doctors to work at the BKC, Dahisar, Mulund and Richardson and Cruddas jumbo centres.

“We don’t plan to immediately convert our entire hospital into a Covid facility. Cardiac patients and surgery cases are admitted here. Our medical students also need to learn their respective specialities and have requested to continue the non-Covid procedures,” said Dean Dr R N Bharmal.

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