Ambulances queue up outside hospitals as beds turn scarce

System overwhelmed: Ambulances carrying COVID-19 patients waiting outside the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: Jothi Ramalingam B

At midnight, when most roads in the city were deserted, the stretches adjoining some of the major government hospitals had a line of ambulances and private vehicles waiting with COVID-19 patients.

On Wednesday midnight, at least 15 ambulances — both government and private — were waiting outside one of the government hospitals in the city. Some patients had come to the hospitals in autorickshaws.

A section of autorickshaw drivers, waiting outside one of the hospitals, said ambulances waiting in line outside the facility had become a regular scene, especially at night.

Watch | Ambulances queue up outside Chennai hospitals

Shortage of beds had led to ambulances queuing up outside the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, the Government Stanley Medical College Hospital and the Government Medical College Hospital, Omandurar Estate, including at midnight, resulting in longer waiting periods for patients.

Long queues

A doctor, who was on night duty, said one day, only three beds were available, while 20 ambulances were waiting outside with patients.

“Each floor gives the bed census only when the patients can be moved. Many need to wait for at least an hour. The situation is very grim,” he said.

“The situation is chaotic,” said a doctor on COVID-19 duty at another government hospital. “Sick patients are put in a triage ward immediately. But getting a bed in the ward takes six to eight hours, or even longer. They are somehow accommodated to be treated. It takes a longer time for stable patients to get a bed,” he added.

A senior doctor, also on COVID-19 duty, said ambulances lined up throughout the day. “The inflow is more in the evening as referrals are done late. Our manpower is stretched,” he observed.

A postgraduate medical student said irrespective of the time, several ambulances were bringing in patients with COVID-19. “We are seeing an increased inflow in the last two weeks,” he said.

“Private hospitals should provide ambulance services after confirming vacancy in hospitals if any patient is referred to a government facility,” the student added.

A doctor working in one of the screening centres said at times, ambulances were caught up in hospitals and they had to wait for the vehicles to return to move patients from the screening facility to the hospital. “At times, this takes at least two hours,” he said.

Official sources said the turnaround time for an ambulance was around one to 1.5 hours. “108 ambulances are making multiple trips for patients with COVID-19,” an officer said.

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Printable version | Jun 21, 2021 1:19:59 PM |

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