Private hospitals see faster inflow of COVID-19 patients

Many private hospitals in Chennai are running to near-full capacity. The rapid surge in daily COVID-19 cases has led to a higher and faster inflow of patients than last year.

Authorities of a number of hospitals said they were operating at their maximum bed strength. Some hospitals were admitting patients depending on the number of discharges per day, while some had to keep patients waiting for want of beds. A few hospitals have decided not to stretch beyond their manpower capacity.

“The inflow of patients has steadily increased in the last four weeks. The hospital has around 130 beds reserved for COVID-19 that includes the intensive care unit. In the last two weeks, our bed occupancy has been 90% to 92%. To admit new patients, we have to wait to see how many patients are being discharged on a particular day,” said Gomathy Narasimhan, chairman, Medical Advisory Board and senior consultant, HPB surgery, liver and renal transplant surgeon, Rela Hospital.

Currently, most patients who come to the hospital are symptomatic, she said, adding, “We are seeing more symptomatic and more young persons. Category-wise, we are picking up more patients with moderate COVID-19.”

Navin Gnanasekaran, associate director of medical services, MGM Healthcare, said COVID-19 cases had surpassed the previous peak numbers at the hospital both outpatient-wise and inpatient-wise. “Non-COVID-19 cases saw an 80% to 85% fall in numbers during the previous peak. They have not fallen by more than 10% this time around,” he said.

He said around 70-100 patients with COVID-19 are the average in every corporate hospital with a minimum bed strength of 250 presently. “As a proportion, it is around 30%-50% of the total bed strength of each hospital. This includes ward beds with oxygen, ICU beds and specialised ECMO ICU beds. Most hospitals are allocating 30%-50% of their total bed strength and resources to COVID-19,” he said.

Health checks, dental, ophthalmology and dermatological services (elective) were being wound up to accommodate resource allocation to COVID-19 care. “Elective surgeries and non-COVID-19 admissions are still on. The present challenge is to cater to both categories of patients as the latter has not seen a significant dip. Hence, there are challenges in converting care areas, stopping elective in-patient and out-patient work, resource allocation to the ICU and staff quarantine,” he explained.

At Fortis Malar Hospital, facility director C.K. Nageswaran said the hospital had reserved 40 to 50 beds for patients with COVID-19, and bed occupancy had reached 100%. “In the previous surge, it took a long time for us to reach full capacity. In fact, COVID-19 cases were almost negligible by February 15 this year. We had decided on March 1 not to take any more patients with COVID-19. But the numbers went up from March 15, and by the end of the month, we reached our peak capacity. The numbers are increasing very fast,” he said.

At Dr. Mehta’s Hospitals, Chetpet, 20 beds were earmarked for COVID-19. This included regular, oxygen beds and ICU, while 70 beds were earmarked at Velapanchavadi, said N. Kannan, group medical director, Dr. Mehta’s Hospitals.

“We are getting 15 to 20 patients with COVID-19 daily. Currently, we are operating at an occupancy rate of 100%. Doctors are advising home isolation for mild to moderate cases, and severe cases are advised to go to the hospital,” he said.

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 6:36:02 AM |

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