Visakhapatnam

Hospitals grapple with staff shortage as infections mount

Grim reality: A patient waiting for admission to the COVID ward of King George Hospital in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday.  

The rapid surge in coronavirus infections has kept the district administration on tenterhooks. On one side, the single-day tally of infections has been touching the 2,000-mark since the last four days and on the other, there is a severe shortage of beds in hospitals. And now, the administration is grappling with shortage of manpower —both nurses and doctors.

During the first wave of the pandemic last year, the district had recorded the highest single-day tally of a little over 1,200. But in the last 10 days, the average has been more than 1,700 cases per day.

More importantly, this is the official count that is confirmned from the RT-PCR test results. Sources say that the real numbers are much higher as many people are undergoing tests through rapid antigen kits or HR-CT scan, which go unrecorded.

Availability of beds

As of now, the district administration is facing a serious shortage of beds.

A conservative estimate by the health officials suggests that the district needs at least 3,000 more beds equipped with oxygen supply facility, apart from the already occupied 4,000 beds. Apart from this, the concern over oxygen supply is growing.

The authorities say that the staff available at the government hospitals are not adequate to the cater to the needs of the patients, given the rapid spread of the infections.

“The load is so high that the existing staff are not able to serve the purpose. There is an urgent requirement for staff nurses, paramedics, lab technicians and doctors,” says District COVID Special Officer and Andhra Medical College principal Dr. P.V. Sudhakar.

Combining all government-run hospitals including the KGH and the VIMS, there are around 1,500 nurses and 1,000 doctors. As per an estimate by the Health Department, there is a need for 1,500 staff including at least 600 doctors. The nursing staff at the VIMS say that the mandatory quarantine period for the doctors and nurses are not being followed properly, due to shortage of staff.

It is also learnt that the administration is in the process of recruiting at least 600 nurses and 300 doctors, but there are few takers.

“We are trying hard to recruit doctors and nurses. But, a few are coming forward. We can’t blame them, as the fear of getting infected is quite palpable. We need to appreciate those who are doing their job tirelessly,” says a senior officer from the district administration.

RINL 1,000-bed hospital

The staff shortage has become a critical issue. Based on a directive from the Union Steel Ministry, the RINL-VSP is setting up a 1,000-bed hospital in its township on a war-footing. Sources say that State government needs to provide the manpower, which in present condition, looks difficult.

“The RINL’s idea can augment well as we can lay a pipeline from the VSP that would supply oxygen to the hospital. We are in discussion with the RINL management and looking into the staffing issue,” says Collector V. Vinay Chand.


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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 7:14:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Visakhapatnam/hospitals-grapple-with-staff-shortage-as-infections-mount/article34494015.ece

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