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Private hospitals in Mumbai asked to reopen OPDs

The state government and BMC observed that private hospitals are not sharing the burden of treating COVID-19 patients or even those with no coronavirus symptoms.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai |
April 21, 2020 1:23:35 am
Mumbai coronavirus cases, coronavirus cases Mumbai, Mumbai COVID-19 cases, COVID-19 Mumbai, COVID-19 cases Mumbai, Mumbai news, city news, Indian Express In the last month, several private hospitals had to be declared containment zones after staffers were infected by the virus from unsuspecting patients. (Express photo by Prashant Nadkar)

After reports that a large number of patients, both with coronavirus symptoms and other illnesses, are being made to run from one hospital to another for admission, a task force created for critical care management of COVID-19 patients has suggested that private hospitals open their out-patient departments (OPDs) to treat all sorts of patients. Private hospitals have, however, resisted the suggestion stating that they do not have enough staff and fear the risk of shutdown if a coronavirus infected patient is admitted.

The state government and BMC observed that private hospitals are not sharing the burden of treating COVID-19 patients or even those with no coronavirus symptoms. In a video-conference Monday, private hospitals were advised to start normal operations and create a system of triage to refer COVID-19 patients to dedicated treatment facilities, while admitting other patients.

“We had a video-conference with CM Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday, too. A discussion is on to see if private hospitals can open OPDs. This will help patients who need treatment for illnesses other than coronavirus,” said Dr Gautam Bhansali, a member of the critical care task force.

Bhansali added currently coronavirus suspected patients are not being admitted to private hospitals due to a fear of shut down. He said discussions are on to assess the possibility of having one ward for suspected patients, and another for confirmed coronavirus patients so that infection control protocol can be followed.

Dr Om Srivastava, a member of the critical care committee, said a discussion on possible solutions is underway. “One of them is to open private hospital OPDs,” he said.

The government has advised private hospitals to provide personal protective equipment to staff in their OPD and follow all prevention protocol. Dr Daksha Shah, deputy executive health officer, BMC, said civic-run hospitals are under a lot of pressure to handle both coronavirus and non-coronavirus patients. “Every private hospital is referring patients to us. We have dedicated Kasturba and Nair hospitals for COVID-19 treatment. The rest of the hospitals are managing all kinds of patients, including dialysis services,” she said.

In the last month, several private hospitals had to be declared containment zones after staffers were infected by the virus from unsuspecting patients. Jaslok, Shushruta, Breach Candy, Wockhardt, Bhatia, Hinduja Khar and Sai (Chembur) hospitals had to be sealed and staff had to be quarantined. A doctor from a south Mumbai hospital said the sealing of hospitals by BMC has led to panic. “It is a big reason why private hospitals are not willing to admit new patients, we don’t know who can be infected.”

A doctor from one of the sealed hospitals said, “We admit emergency patients to save their lives. But if any test positive, our entire ICU staff has to be quarantined…We need government support to continue working.”

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