As Covid-19 cases in Mumbai stabilise at 1,200-1,500 fresh cases a day, hospitals are slowly shifting focus to handling patients suffering from other illnesses and bringing on track other specialties. Administrators, however, say it will take several weeks before normalcy for other health services is restored.
In Hinduja hospital (Khar), which remains a non-Covid hospital, semi-elective procedures have begun and admission for laparoscopic surgery or urinary stones have been recorded.
“Elective procedures like joint replacement, cochlear implant or plastic surgeries will take time. Patients are not willing to get hospitalised due to fear of infection unless they have unbearable pain,” said Dr Avinash Supe, executive director of Hinduja Khar.
Patients requiring emergency or semi-emergency procedure including heart surgery, accident, cancer, organ transplant or kidney ailment are undergoing hospitalisation but those who need procedures like cosmetic surgery, dermatology, joint or hip replacement prefer waiting. In out patient department, the hospital has noted a slight rise from last month, about 300 patients attend in a week. Before the pandemic, the hospital recorded 2,000 patients per week in OPD.
In SL Raheja hospital, medical director Dr Hiren Ambegaonkar said they have planned a phased approach in opening up other specialties. Tele medicine still remains a preference for patients. “We are currently only admitting stroke or heart attack patients. We did a few surgeries for cancer. We have 20 per cent beds left for non-Covid patients in hospital, if patients are willing to get admitted we can expand to more procedures.”
Bombay hospital has begun admissions for monsoon-related illnesses apart from treating Covid-19 patients and is also running its OPD.
Not all hospitals have managed to open up specialisations other that cardiac procedures. In BSES hospital, Andheri, 70 beds are reserved for Covid-19 and 25 for other illnesses. The hospital mostly gets patients of heart attacks. “We are facing difficulty in treating any other specialisations because it is a one building structure and patients fear Covid infection because we have so many beds for Covid. We want to start more specialities,” said Dr Ashok Mehta, medical director.
The state government’s May 21 notification reserved 80 per cent beds in all private hospitals till August 31 and capped prices for the reserved beds. Hospitals are hopeful once the 80 per cent criteria is gone, they will be able to admit more patients of other illnesses.
Several doctors said they are providing free consultancy over phone to patients. “Patients ask on which bank account to transfer and we let go,” said Dr Gautam Bhansali. In OPD patients usually paid at counter of hospital.
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