As they brace for a surge of Covid-19 patients, Pune hospitals are facing a shortage of doctors, nurses and ward attendants. The state government-run Sassoon General Hospital has now published an advertisement for recruiting 720 healthcare personnel. Across Pune cantonments and rural areas, authorities said they are trying to fill up as many as 407 vacant posts and recruit over additional 1,000 healthcare personnel.
At Pune Municipal Corporation, officials are racing to complete walk-in interviews for recruiting as many as 665 health care personnel, while at Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, health authorities have asked for trained ICU nurses.
With over 32,000 Covid-19 cases and more than 900 deaths in Pune, the pandemic has led to rising demand for healthcare personnel, both at government and private hospitals. The manpower shortage is also more urgent as healthcare personnel have to observe a mandatory quarantine period following their exposure to Covid-19 patients. Even as the Centre has revised the 14-day quarantine period for doctors, nurses and healthcare workers, who have high-risk exposure to Covid-19 cases, to one week, there are increasing cases of the virus affecting healthcare personnel, who are isolated for treatment.
At Sassoon General Hospital, the state’s biggest government hospital, authorities are planning to add another 60 ICU beds to the existing 40 by month-end. A critical care ward with 150 beds is being upgraded and demand has increased for healthcare staff. During earlier months of pandemic, in April and May, at least 95 doctors from the private sector were recruited for managing critical care patients at Sassoon General Hospital. But, with private hospitals admitting their fair share of Covid-19 patients, the flow from this sector has reduced.
As per the advertisement , Sassoon General Hospital will require at least 48 physicians, 38 intensivists, 15 paediatricians, and 89 resident chest physicians/anaesthetists. This is apart from other healthcare personnel, ward attendants and over 200 nurses who have to be recruited. The recruitments will be made initially on a contract basis for six months. Monthly pay packets of Rs 2.25 lakh for physicians and intensivists are being offered.
Land Settlement Commissioner S Chokalingam, who has been given administrative charge to tackle the Covid-19 situation at Sassoon General Hospital, told The Indian Express that hospital authorities did not face a problem in filling up Class III and Class IV posts, and there was enough manpower for providing patient care in the wards. But only 50 per cent of specialists’ posts have been filled and a second round of advertisements will be issued, said Chokalingam.
Ramchandra Hankare, chief medical officer of PMC, said interviews have been underway since the last two days and the civic body was in the process of recruiting healthcare personnel on a contract basis. At the civic body, physicians, paediatricians and intensivists will be offered a monthly amount of Rs 2.25 lakh on a contract basis. Hankare said the PMC needed a total of 50 physicians, intensivists and paediatricians, apart from other healthcare personnel.
Some private hospitals are also facing a similar problem.
Dr H K Sale, executive director of the 330-bed Noble Hospital, said the hospital has only 300 nurses. “Presently, there are 243 coronavirus patients, with another 18 swab reports awaited. There is an entire section where 25 doctors and nurses, who were infected, are being kept in isolation and given treatment. Still, we are managing to rope in doctors from other departments in our hospitals to provide patient care,” he said.
At the Symbiosis dedicated Covid hospital, CEO Dr Vijay Natarajan said they had only seven doctors to take care of ICU patients. There are 288 Covid-19 patients at the hospital and with all 30 ICU beds occupied, it is a challenge to manage patients with a limited number of intensivists, said Dr Natarajan.
Pune ZP to recruit 1,489 health care personnel
Ayush Prasad, CEO of Pune Zilla Parishad, said they had identified 1,489 vacant posts, of which 407 were vacant across different departments that coordinate the functioning of programmes under the National Health Mission.
M S Ghule, deputy CEO of General Administration at Pune ZP, said that in addition to filling up vacancies, additional 1,082 health personnel will be recruited as part of the project implementation plan sanctioned by the state to fighr Covid-19. Online applications have been invited for posts including 13 physicians, 17 anaesthetists, 204 medical officers and 701 staff nurses. At least 38 posts of lab technicians, 24 of X-ray technicians and 11 pharmacists have to be filled. The plan also envisages recruiting 200 ward attendants and bedside attendants.
Joining the Zilla Parishad’s campaign, Shirur Lok Sabha MP Amol Kolhe has also urged doctors and healthcare personnel to join the fight against Covid-19 in large numbers for the next three months.
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