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Mumbai: High demand, many hospitals run out of ventilators, ICU

Till Saturday morning, 73 ICUs and 18 ventilators were available in 135 Covid hospitals here. Several BMC hospital doctors told The Indian Express they had to turn away patients owing to lack of beds.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai |
April 11, 2021 1:27:14 am
intensive care units, government hospitals, Mumbai government hospitals, Mumbai ICU, Mumbai oxygen deficiency, india news, indian expressMany patients ran from pillar to post, seeking admission. (Representational)

Private and government hospitals in Mumbai are facing an immense shortage of ventilators and intensive care units (ICUs). On Friday, BMC war rooms, flooded with phone calls, started responding that “all beds are full”. Many patients ran from pillar to post, seeking admission.

Till Saturday morning, 73 ICUs and 18 ventilators were available in 135 Covid hospitals here. Several BMC hospital doctors told The Indian Express they had to turn away patients owing to lack of beds.

Ramnath Tupsaindar (61), a resident of Thomas compound chawl in Dahisar East, tried the whole of Friday night to get admission at a hospital. Eventually, he got admission at the Dahisar Kandarpada jumbo centre in the early hours on Saturday. By then, his oxygen saturation level had dropped to 66. Doctors put him on a makeshift ICU, using a dialysis bed. Only after a patient died, could Tupsaindar be provided with ventilator support at 5 am. He passed away on Saturday morning due to a cardiac arrest.

Tupsaindar’s family said they had called the ward-level war-room and the toll-free number 1916, looking for beds, on Friday when he became breathless. They were told no beds were available. The family then hired a private ambulance and visited the Dahisar jumbo centre only to find that no ICU was available. They then went to the NESCO jumbo centre, BKC jumbo centre, Bhabha Bandra Hospital and Sion Hospital.

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“The NESCO centre said they have no ICU. They refused to even stabilise the patient. We begged the BKC centre too. They too said there is no bed,” said Sandhya Fernandes, a friend of the family.

The misery continued for Tupsaindar and his family for five hours before they returned to the Dahisar centre, where on-duty doctors agreed to admit him.

“All our 100 ICUs and ventilators are full. We have converted four of our 10 dialysis beds into makeshift ICUs to admit critical patients. We have no other option,” said Dr Shiv Yadav at the Dahisar centre.


A senior doctor at the BKC jumbo centre said they are refusing new patients as all ICUs are full. Dr Rajesh Dere, dean at the BKC centre, said: “We are allowed to admit patients only as per the war-room referral. We do not have ventilators, but general beds at present.”

At Sion Hospital, a resident doctor said their casualty department is flooded with Covid-19 suspected and confirmed patients, while no ICUs are vacant.

On Saturday, the family of Chandrakant Gosavi (61) visited several hospitals in search of an ICU bed. “He is admitted to Dhanashri Hospital, but since they are a non-Covid hospital, they have asked to discharge him,” said a relative of the family. The family tried the BMC helpline and went to the Dahisar facility, which referred them to the NESCO jumbo centre. Both the hospitals had no ventilator available.


Dr Neelam Andrade, dean at the NESCO facility, said they have 1,500 patients admitted and are running ICUs and ventilators with full capacity. “I have asked for 25 more ventilators. We expect the delivery by night,” she said. The jumbo facility is also creating a 600-bed facility to increase its patient intake capacity.

The BMC is in the process of adding 300 more ICUs across its hospitals. Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal said they may open walk-in facility at jumbo centres for emergency cases.

At Hiranandani Hospital, officials said all their ICUs were full, Lilavati Hospital echoed the same.

Mumbai’s active case load rose by 38,100 patients in the past 10 days. Each patient is admitted to hospital for 10-14 days on an average. There are 18,632 beds in Covid hospitals, of them 3,555 are vacant. The percentage of vacant beds in hospitals has dropped from 40 per cent until last month to less than 20 per cent.

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First published on: 11-04-2021 at 01:27:14 am

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