Updated: March 18, 2021 4:55:42 pm
Faced with a surge in Covid-19 cases, the civic administration is struggling to manage beds given the limitation in government-run hospitals. To make matters worse, the administration has no control over private hospitals as well after expiration of agreement with them.
As on March 17, there were 15,032 registered active Covid-19 patients in the city and the civic body has been inundated with frantic calls requesting for beds for hospitalisation. “There are unlimited calls from citizens asking for bed for treatment of Covid-19 patients and we are able to make arrangements for around 150 critical patients while turning down many of them depending upon their better health condition,” said a civic health officer.
The PMC has set up a 24-hour helpline facility for bed management and queries keep coming throughout the day. “There are only a few government hospitals with ICU and Oxygen facilities which are necessary for critical patients. The patients were first referred to the dedicated Covid hospital in Baner but the beds are fully occupied. Thus, the patients are diverted to Naidu and Sassoon general hospital,” he said, adding that these are all free treatment beds.
Moreover, the bed shortage problem is being compounded by the fact that PMC now has no control over private hospitals. “The PMC had signed an agreement with private hospitals in the past and also reserved 20 per cent beds for patients referred by the civic body for which the treatment expenses were incurred by the PMC. Now, the agreement with private hospitals is over and the civic body is unable to refer patients to private hospitals,” a civic officer said, adding that those who can afford to get treatment at private hospitals are directly reaching out to the respective hospitals.
Also, some patients use their influence to occupy beds in government hospitals even when there’s no actual need for hospitalisation.
Assistant Medical Officer Manisha Naik said that the shortage of beds is mainly due to patients wanting to get admitted to only select big private hospitals in the city which are filled to their capacity.
Naik said that patients who can afford treatment in private hospitals are choosing to get admitted only in select big hospitals even when there is an availability of other hospitals across the city for the same treatment. She added that the Union government has fixed the line of treatment for Covid-19 patients so people should get admitted to any private hospitals for treatment as there should not be a problem in getting the necessary treatment.
Naik expects the situation to change after the jumbo Covid-19 hospital restarts its operations. “There will be availability of additional ICU and Oxygen beds to treat the critical patients once the jumbo hospital restarts,” she said.
Assistant Medical Officer Anjali Sabane said the PMC has recently extended the agreement with Deenanath Mangeshkar hospital for three months to make available 100 Oxygen beds and 15 beds with ventilators for treatment of critical patients referred by the civic body. “There is no need to extend the agreement with more private hospitals as all hospitals are now treating Covid-19 patients. The agreements were signed during the start of the pandemic as there were no dedicated beds for treatment of Covid-19 patients in private hospitals during the initial stages,” she said.
The PMC has been running Covid Care Centre (CCC) in Khedkar hospital in Bopodi and Dalvi hospital in Shivajinagar, she said, adding that four more CCCs would be opened for operations on March 20 and make available 1,250 normal beds.
The 800-bed provision, including 200 ICU and 600 oxygen beds, at jumbo facility in CoEP was started in August end last year and admission of patients was stopped on January 15 after a decrease in active cases to 2,619 with 206 in critical condition and 285 on oxygen. The contract for the hospital ended on February 6 and is now being renewed to restart the hospital.
According to PMC, a total of 3,657 beds are available for treatment of Covid-19 patients in the city, including 833 in government hospitals and 2,824 in private hospitals.
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