Steep rise in COVID-19 cases impacts availability of beds

Highest surge in cases witnessed in Bengaluru

Published - March 31, 2021 10:47 pm IST - Bengaluru

Beds at COVID-19 care centre at Koramangala indoor stadium in Bengaluru.

Beds at COVID-19 care centre at Koramangala indoor stadium in Bengaluru.

With the gradual resumption of non-COVID-19 services and most beds being converted into non-COVID-19 ones in several government hospitals, patients who need hospitalisation are already finding it hard to find a bed in Bengaluru, which is seeing the highest surge.

With most beds in government hospitals full and very few COVID-19 beds in private hospitals, COVID-19 patients who need hospitalisation, especially in South and the East zones where clusters had been reported, are struggling to get a bed.

Need for more

Ameen e Mudassar, member, Emergency Response Team, a volunteer group that offers free services to people in getting tested and finding beds, said enquiries for beds have increased considerably in the last week. “With cases rising rapidly, the government should rope in private hospitals for government referrals at the earliest and ensure that at least 30% beds are set aside for COVID-19 patients there,” he said.

Following a decline in cases, the referral of patients under the government quota to private hospitals was stopped since early December.

Government hospital heads admitted that they are running full now. Victoria Hospital, which was a dedicated COVID-19 facility till a few months ago with 550 beds, has just 160 COVID-19 beds now and almost all are occupied.

Smitha Segu, nodal officer for COVID-19 in Bengaluru Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI), said the hospital has been running full for the last few days. “Almost all the 160 beds are occupied. We are planning to convert another 140 non-COVID-19 beds into COVID-19 ones. But, this will take a couple of weeks,” she said.

Bowring and Lady Curzon Medical College and Research Institute, which earlier had 160 beds, currently has 110. Institute Dean and Director Manoj Kumar H.V. said over half of the COVID-19 beds have been occupied due to a rise in the number of cases in the past few days.

“We are planning to add 50 more COVID-19 beds depending on the situation in the coming days. That apart, 100 of the 130 beds in Charaka Super Speciality Hospital will also be dedicated to COVID-19 from April,” the doctor said.

Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RGICD) that had 174 beds till a few months ago converted 150 exclusively for SARI/ILI cases and the remaining for non-COVID-19 problems. “Our SARI ward has been running full and nearly 2% of the patients are testing positive for COVID-19. We are shifting such patients to Victoria hospital,” said C. Nagaraj, RGICD director.

TAC recommendation

The State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) has recommended that the government should restart the centralised e-distribution of hospital beds incorporating private hospitals.

Prasanna H.M., president, Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA), said most smaller hospitals had completely converted into non-COVID-19 ones. “Only bigger chain hospitals and those with 100 beds and above still have some beds for COVID-19. We have been seeing a rush of patients since last week and the demand that till last week was high in South and East zones is seen across the city now,” he said.

“We have requested the government not to create panic like last time. We are ready to share beds but this time we have requested that medical college hospitals be utilised first followed by chain hospitals and then 100 beds and above facilities. Hospitals with 50 beds and above should be roped in only if there is a dire need and those below 50 beds should be allowed to handle only non-COVID-19 cases. The government has orally agreed to this,” Dr. Prasanna explained.

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