Coronavirus | Rising cases in Chennai train spotlight on shortage of manpower

Health Minister C. Vijayabaskar, Corporation Commissioner G. Prakash and Special Nodal Officer J. Radhakrishnan distributing masks in Royapuram.

Health Minister C. Vijayabaskar, Corporation Commissioner G. Prakash and Special Nodal Officer J. Radhakrishnan distributing masks in Royapuram.   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

‘Current bed capacity is sufficient to handle inflow of patients’

Chennai remains a hotspot for COVID-19, with at least 300 to 500 new cases being reported every day. This raises the question of how all the patients are being accommodated and cared for.

While the Health Department said the bed capacity in the city’s hospitals and COVID Care Centres (CCCs) is sufficient to handle the current inflow of patients, and may be increased if required, doctors say the real problem lies with manpower.

As of Wednesday, the city accounted for 5,345 active cases.

“The current bed capacity is sufficient. In fact, we can increase the bed strength two-fold or three-fold, if required. Once the cases from the Koyambedu cluster subside, we will be in a comfortable position,” an official said.

There were nearly 3,000 beds in government hospitals in Chennai, he said, adding that they included 1,700 beds at the four government medical college hospitals - the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH), the Government Stanley Medical College Hospital, the Government Kilpauk Medical College Hospital and the Government Medical College Hospital, Omandurar Estate, all of which were designated COVID-19 facilities.

“Along with this, we have 300 beds in the ESI Hospital at Ayanavaram. There are about 450 to 500 beds in the peripheral hospitals at K.K. Nagar, Anna Nagar, Tondiarpet and Periyar Nagar,” he added.

Besides, there were 6,000 to 7,000 beds in CCCs in Chennai, he said, adding, “There are nearly 10,000 beds available. The capacity can be increased if required. For instance, RGGGH, which has 400 beds at present, can accommodate 4,000 beds. Similarly, KMC can have 2,000 beds; it currently has 400. The Government Stanley Medical College Hospital has a capacity for 2,500 beds.”

However, a senior doctor at one of the government hospitals said that the Chennai Corporation was ensuring that persons who test positive are isolated in hospitals.

“We have sufficient beds, but we need manpower. Already, several of our doctors, including senior doctors, and nurses, have tested positive for COVID-19. Their morale has been affected. We also have to depute doctors and nurses to COVID Care Centres. We are ready to work, but need sufficient manpower,” he said.

A number of doctors have suggested that the Health Department divert doctors and nurses from districts where there are less number of cases or no cases to the city to augment the resource. “The need of the hour is to divert manpower from under-utilised areas to Chennai,” he said.

Another doctor on COVID-19 duty said that considering the case load in Chennai, the current level of manpower was insufficient. “Doctors from peripheral hospitals can be deputed for a week, and can at least take up regular duty in hospitals in the city,” he said.

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 9:34:54 AM |

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