May 8, 2021 12:49:53 am
Amid severe shortage of ICU beds with ventilators in both private and public hospitals in Rajkot due to the surge in Covid-19 cases, Rajkot District Collector Remya Mohan on Thursday said that 103 ventilators purchased by the government were being used by private hospitals.
“Private hospitals have been given 103 ventilators on loan basis since October… When they place orders for ventilators in the market, it takes up to two months to get their delivery… We had extra (ventilators) and the government had taken the initiative to save lives… there is nothing in it warranting criticism,” Mohan said responding to media reports that after getting government ventilators for free, 38 private hospitals in the city were charging patients up to Rs 21,500 per day.
These ventilators were originally allotted to the District Covid Hospital (DCH) set up in the multi-specialty block of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Government Hospital, popularly called Rajkot civil hospital. Media reports claimed that after 103 ventilators were “loaned” to private hospitals, the government had to mobilise 40 ventilators from elsewhere to the civil hospital as Covid-19 cases soared. At present, there are 201 ventilators in the civil hospital and the district collector said that more were being installed.
The 103 ventilators “loaned” by the government to private hospitals constitute around 23 per cent of the total 453 ventilator beds, which were available in 44 private hospitals in the city till around 10 days ago, officials said.
According to official records, the civil hospital has 808 beds, including 607 with medical oxygen supply (O2 beds) and 201 ventilator beds. The 44 private hospitals designated as private Covid-19 hospitals have 1,831 beds, including 1378 oxygen beds and 453 ventilators. Thirty two other private hospitals, which were designated as Covid hospitals around 10 days ago, have 858 beds, including 764 oxygen beds and 94 ventilators.
As of Monday morning, 518 of the total 4,656 beds were vacant in various hospitals in the district. Of them, 68 were vacant in Rajkot civil hospital, where ventilator beds were fully occupied, sources said. It is the only public hospital in Rajkot district that has ventilators to treat Covid-19 patients.
Talking to The Indian Express on Friday, Mohan said, “That time, there was a government directive (to loan ventilators to private hospitals) because a lot of private hospitals were placing orders but were not getting ventilators. There was a long waiting time. That time, we had a large number of ventilators in proportion to our beds. We were not able to increase ventilators because of the limitation of number of beds… it’s about life, whichever hospital or wherever they are. So, this was facilitated. It’s a simple loan system and they will be taken back once the crisis is over,” Mohan said, adding “everything is documented”.
According to the collector, there were capacity limitations and priorities. “We have 201 (ventilators) plus others under installation… But you have oxygen beds, you have ventilators beds. If new ventilator patients come, you cannot throw out the patient in oxygen bed. Because overall capacity at civil hospital is limited. So, instead of having it idle, we have utilised them on a bed where patient is there… In crises, certain decisions have to be taken… it is very easy to criticise but I don’t believe there is anything wrong in saving a life,” the collector said.
She added that the government has so far not demanded the ventilators back from the private hospitals nor is the government charging any fee from the hospitals.
Mohan said the decision needed to be understood in right spirit. “Now, if we start dividing lives as per government and private and this and that… People go in desperation… After all it was a loan and it was a very good gesture on behalf of the government and it needs to be taken in the right spirit,” she said.
When pointed out that private hospitals, while using government ventilators, were charging the patients, Mohan said, “They are private hospitals and they are charging but in the process, they have saved lives so they are able to help out that patient. This has been all the way since September so I don’t really want to comment on that.”
Confirming that there was no shortage of ventilators in Rajkot as of now, the collector said, “There is no dearth of ventilators even now in civil hospital. But we cannot remove a patient and keep a new patient just to put them on ventilator. There are so many Covid-negative patients in RICU who need ventilators, or BiPAP… Lots of beds are being occupied by them. Now, what can be done?”
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