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Hospitals look to increase bed strength as Covid-19 cases rise two-fold in Pune

In areas under the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), more than 750 new infections are being reported daily for the past few days.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
Updated: February 27, 2021 1:37:16 pm
Pune city news, PMC, Pune vaccination centres, Pune covid cases, Pune second phase vaccination, Indian expressThe second phase of vaccination was started at four government hospitals. (Representational)

With the rise in Covid-19 cases in the past two weeks, several city hospitals have been reporting a two-fold increase in incoming infected patients and are now facing pressure to reallocate their bed strength to cater to the rush.

Barely a month ago, several hospitals had shut down some of their Covid wards as cases were on the decline. For the past 15 days, however, there has been an upswing in the number of new infections. In areas under the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), more than 750 new infections are being reported daily for the past few days. Overall, Pune city has crossed the milestone of two lakh Covid patients since the first case was detected in March last year.

At KEM Hospital, Dr Madhur Rao, senior deputy medical administrator, said after a long gap, non-Covid patients had started outnumbering the patients with coronavirus infection.

“Cases were declining and we had shut down two Covid wards. However, now there is pressure to increase the bed strength and we find ourselves in a similar situation as it was before the cases peaked in September 2020,” Dr Rao added.

“We have a large referral paediatric practice at 576-bed KEM Hospital. Re-arranging beds will now be a big squeeze for us. Till recently, 180 beds were dedicated for Covid. Two weeks ago, there were some 26 Covid patients and the figure has almost doubled. At present, there are 51 patients and all our 15 beds in the intensive care and critical care units are full,” he said.

Abrarali Dalal, chief operations officer, Sahyadri Hospitals, said, “We have a total of 500 operational beds across six hospitals in Pune out of which currently 133 are for Covid patients. Currently, the total number of Covid patients at our hospitals is 140 to 150, up from 70 to 80 two weeks ago. There has been a surge in the non-Covid patients from the past few months after the pandemic situation had started easing. There is a slow impact on the number of non-Covid patients now coming to the hospital. However, unlike earlier, it has gone down by 15 to 20 percent.”

At Ruby Hall Clinic, Medical Superintendent Dr Avdhut Bodhamwad said from February 1 – 18, they had admitted 56 patients, but in the next one week, received 39 more. Ruby Hall Clinic has over 100 beds across its three branches. Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital has admitted a total of 140 new infections. The figure has doubled in the next 10 days, authorities said.

Jehangir Hospital had been operating an ICU and two wards dedicated to Covid patients, but that would have to be increased now.

“Only one main ward was closed as cases were on the wane. However, the hospital has 44 patients now and authorities said preliminary discussions were held with civic health authorities. There are separate designated areas for Covid patients and if required, the bed strength can be stepped up,” Jehangir Hospital authorities said.

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Dr Manish Kolge, consulting physician at Rao Nursing Home, said they had 70 patients, including nine in the ICU. Just a few weeks ago, there were less than 10.

Dr Balasaheb Bande, senior consultant in critical care unit, Noble Hospital, said they had 100 new infections and their 16-bed ICU was full. According to Dr H K Sale, executive director of Noble Hospital, there were less than 30 Covid patients two weeks ago. “We have been told by the PMC, as required, the bed strength should be increased and not a single patient should suffer,” Dr Sale added.

PMC’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Ashish Bharati said total 90 hospitals, including the civic-run ones, are engaged in treating Covid patients. “As of now, there is no data on the clinical presentation of any different symptoms and if required, we will ask hospitals to upgrade bed strength,” he added.

PMC owes more than Rs 50 crore to various pvt hospitals

The Association of Hospitals in Pune in a letter to the Pune Municipal Commissioner has stated that they were finding it extremely difficult to function owing to heavy unpaid dues from the PMC and other similar government organisations.

The outstanding dues are to the tune of around Rs 50 crore. Bomi Bhote, chairman of the association, said these were patients referred under the PMC welfare schemes for Covid-19 treatment. “We have been making repeated requests with regard to the dues from the PMC to the hospitals towards hospitalisation of its beneficiaries. But none of our requests have been addressed,” Bhote said in the letter.

The letter said the PMC owes Rs 3.5 crore to Jehangir Hospital, Rs 4.5 crore to Ruby Hall Clinic, Rs 7 crore to KEM Hospital, Rs 6.5 crore to Noble Hospital, Rs 4.5 crore to Inlaks & Budhrani Hospital, Rs 1 crore to Kohakade Hospital, Rs 11 crore to Sahyadri Hospitals, Rs 8.5 crore to Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital and Rs 4.8 crore to Poona Hospital among others.

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