In a move that has raised eyebrows, the Sassoon General Hospital has been asked to temporarily shift 70 ventilators to the jumbo Covid-19 treatment facility at the College of Engineering Pune (CoEP). On Wednesday, authorities at the largest government-run hospital in the state confirmed that they were able to shift 30 ventilators to the jumbo facility.
A week since the facility was set up and inaugurated at CoEP, there have been 27 deaths there, which, doctors have said, were of patients who were admitted at a critical stage.
A district task force of senior doctors, which visited the site, strongly recommended a change in the protocol for admitting Covid patients, which was “unnecessarily lengthy”.
Task force members also said that there was a need for more medical personnel to manage Covid patients.
Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao admitted to teething problems at the site. “We have issued an order to temporarily relocate 70 ventilators from Sassoon General Hospital,” he said. Rao added that when the jumbo facility was inaugurated on August 26, the plan initially was to work with 25 per cent occupancy. “However, there has been a heavy inflow of patients and the facility already has 385 patients. The district task force members have also highlighted major and minor works that need to be looked into…,” said Rao.
“This is a good facility and we are setting things right,” he added.
Rao pointed out that Sassoon General Hospital has 120 ICU beds with ventilators while 50 patients were on ventilator support. Owing to interruption in oxygen supply at the hospital, the administration was planning a short shutdown. “We decided to issue an order to shift some of their ventilators to the jumbo facility. This is a temporary move and will also include asking some of their staff doctors, intensivists and others, to treat Covid patients here,” said Rao.
The coronavirus pandemic has seen worldwide oxygen supply systems under stress, and in Pune, which has the highest number of Covid-19 cases in the state, several hospitals are facing challenges to procure and ensure constant flow of oxygen to patients. YCM Hospital in Pimpri-Chinchwad, too, had to face the problem while Sassoon Hospital now finds itself dealing with some faults in the oxygen supply facility. There has been overconsumption of high-flow oxygen and fixing the problem will take at least a week. Patients across the three main floors of the superspecialty 11- storey building are being shifted to other buildings on the campus.
There was a decision to shift 200 patients, so that the work can be completed at a faster pace. However, most hospitals are full and the coronavirus dashboard, indicating the availability of beds, showed that till late Wednesday evening, even the jumbo facility had filled up its share of patients. Sassoon hospital had increased the number of ICU beds to 120 with ventilators in phases. Presently, there are 90 ventilators available and 60 require artificial ventilation.
Shifting the ventilators, however, has come as a surprise as there is always a possibility that critical patients may need ventilators and hence that should be readily available, experts said. There are invasive and non-invasive ventilators and in case a patient has been shifted to the ICU, there is a possibility that he/she may turn critical and in that case, the ventilator should be readily available, said experts.
While Sassoon Hospital is managing to deal with the crisis, the OPD is seeing a large number of non-Covid patients.
Sujeet Patkar – partner in Lifeline hospital management and healthcare services, an agency that is coordinating with PMC to manage the jumbo facility at CoEP – said they had a total of 600 oxygenated beds, 140 high-density units, 60 ICUs with ventilators in half of them. Since August 26, there have been more than 450 admissions and a total of 27 deaths, a majority of which died as they were in the critical stage.
“There were plans to step up the jumbo facility and so far we have 10 senior intensivists, 70 junior intensivists, five consultants and 70 nurses,” Patkar said. The divisional commissioner, however, pointed out that an additional 100 medical personnel would be outsourced from another healthcare agency
Most private ICUs full
On Wednesday evening, the coronavirus dashboard, indicating availability of hospital beds, showed no vacancy for an ICU bed with ventilators in a majority of hospitals.
Dr Sunil Rao, group medical director of Sahyadri hospitals, said that all their ICU beds were full at the Deccan, Hadapsar, Kothrud, Nagar Road and Bibvewadi centres.
Dr Sanjay Pathare, medical director at Ruby Hall Clinic, said that not a single bed of the 400-bed facility was unoccupied.
Dr H K Sale, executive director at Noble hospital, said all 231 beds were occupied with Covid patients and 31 ICU beds were full.
Vinod Sawantwadkar, CEO at Jehangir hospital, said they had increased their bed strength to manage Covid patients, but all were full.
Pune has reported 1.73 lakh cases till Wednesday afternoon and 4,072 deaths. There are 35,636 active Covid cases presently.
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