EVEN as District Collector Naval Kishore Ram and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) chief Shravan Hardikar on Sunday appealed to people to take proper precautions and not panic unnecessarily, it has come to light that the civic body was struggling to get adequate number of doctors and nurses to treat serious Covid-19 patients. Two intensive care units (ICUs) at Yashwantrao Chavan Memorial (YCM) Hospital, a dedicated Covid hospital, have remained closed while 50 ventilators received under the PM Cares Fund have remained unutilised.
After the Covid-19 cases started rising in Pimpri-Chinchwad, the civic administration had decided to set up two well-equipped ICUs, besides the two it already had. It also took possession of an ICU of Ruby Alcare, a private health unit located inside YCMH premises. The two new ICUs were set up over two months back, but have remained shut as YCMH could not get doctors and nurses to treat serious patients.
Dr Rajendra Wable, dean, YCM Hospital and College, said they were trying to add more doctors and nurses to run the ICUs, but have failed so far. “To operate two additional ICUs along with existing two ICUs, we need at least 80 doctors and 160 nurses, working in three shifts. We have issued advertisements and conduct walk-in interviews, but so far have failed to meet the target. We have also started taking BAMS and BHMS doctors,” he said.
A doctor handling Covid-19 patients told The Indian Express that there was severe shortage of doctors in YCMH. “Most of those handling Covid-19 patients are students… Some of them have left after clearing NEET exam and finding job elsewhere,” he said.
At present, YCMH has 50 ventilator beds, including 30 in two IUCs and remaining in the ICU of the private health unit. “We need at least 50 more doctors and 60 nurses for the two operational ICUs. Currently, only 30 doctors and 50 nurses are handling patients in two existing ICUs. Every three ventilator beds require at least one doctor and a nurse. The load of patients requiring ventilator support is rising,” said a senior doctor at the hospital.
Dr Wable said they were trying to ensure that ventilators received under the PM Cares Fund are put in use. “We are replacing the old ventilators at our ICUs with the new ones. Not all beds require ventilators. In any ICU, two- third of the beds require ventilators, while rest are oxygen beds,” he said.
Prof Pravin Soni, in-charge, Department of Medicine, YCMH, said, “When they fall short of ventilator beds, they admit serious patients to high dependency unit where high flow of oxygen is given to the patients.”
Meanwhile, PCMC chief Shravan Hardikar during a live Facebook session on Sunday appealed to residents to not panic. “…We will have to learn to live with it (coronavirus). But at the same time, we should follow social distancing and take necessary precautions. If a person gets fever, he or she should not panic. They should immediately seek treatment. We should get rid of the fear from our minds and only then we will be able to overcome the challenge posed by the virus,” he said.
District Collector Naval Kishore Ram tweeted, “Pune district has more than one crore population. We have only 600 patients who are critically ill. We do not want a single critical patient. Let us reduce anxiety and panic and think about how to prevent ourselves from the infections. Timely intervention is the key to beat coronavirus. People should seek immediate medical aid in case they fall seek.”
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