Hospitals in the city are facing a host of challenges, as a section of nurses and healthcare workers have warned that they will stay away from work as they are apprehensive about getting infected while treating coronavirus patients without proper protective gear.
At Noble Hospital, Executive Director Dr. H K Sale said daily, they require at least 200 personal protective equipment (PPE) kits as these have to be given to doctors, nurses and paramedical staff, as well as housekeeping personnel.
“There is a shortage and now we are purchasing contents of the kits, like gowns and goggles, separately. Our nurses come thrice a day but the housekeeping staff are facing problems, as some stay at rented rooms nearby in Hadapsar area and their landlords are asking them to vacate,” said Dr. Sale.
At Ruby Hall Clinic, CEO Bomi Bhote said he is caught up the entire day trying to convince staff and other employees that arrangements are being made to ensure their safety. “We had a meeting with surgeons… and I have told them that an advanced payment was made to a company and a vehicle was sent all the way from Pune to Bangalore to procure at least 100 masks,” said Bhote.
Medical Director Dr. Sanjay Lalwani of Bharati Hospital admitted that the situation would be critical if they were not given proper supply of PPE kits. “We ventilated the 41-year-old anganwadi worker for 12 days and while she is doing well, there is a need for PPE for the doctors and nurses who were looking after her,” he said.
At the 830-bed Bharati Hospital, a number of patients have been discharged and the usual occupancy of 500 beds has come down to about 150. “At least 35-40 per cent of our nursing staff left… before the lockdown. They had gone back to their hometowns but now that they have seen frontline doctors managing patients at the ICU, they have agreed to come back. We are also worried about the safety of our healthcare personnel, and while a proposal has been sent to the state to use the 150 beds for treatment of COVID-19 patients, the hospital has demanded an assurance about supply of PPE kits, apart from insurance for the medical staff and payment of charges for drugs,” said Dr. Lalwani.
At Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital, chief intensivist Dr. Prasad Rajhans said daily, he has been urging nurses not to panic, and counselling them on how to stay safe.
KEM Hospital Medical Director Dr. V L Yemul said that presently, the hospital had a stock of PPE kits, but if the number of cases increased, they will end up facing a trying situation.
Scientists urge Centre to involve them to fast-track procurement of PPE.
Even as the Maharashtra government has demanded 3.25 lakh PPE kits, among other equipment, from the Centre, scientists in Pune have urged the government to involve them to fast-track the procurement process.
Professor L S Shashidhara of Ashoka University (currently on leave from IISER Pune) told The Indian Express, “The government procurement machinery has evolved over time to ensure accountability, transparency and efficiency. While one can balance all three, excelling in all would be difficult. Since it is public money, accountability and transparency is more important and hence the procurement timeline is often a long-drawn process.
“During a crisis such as this, the efficiency with which one functions is critical. There are many national institutes, particularly autonomous bodies such as IITs and IISERs, which run extremely efficient procurement systems. They routinely purchase high-end equipment… for biomedical research. These need to be involved in the process,” he added.
According to sources, some firms had recently pooled in a large sum of money to procure PPEs from a South Korean firm. The credibility and third-party inspection of the quality and quantity of PPEs were done in less than 48 hours but by the time a good procurement channel could be found, another country had purchased the consignment.
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