Rise in COVID-19 cases fills up beds in city’s government hospitals

Rapidity of transmission caught us unawares, says senior doctor

Published - April 11, 2021 01:14 am IST - CHENNAI

The day-to-day rise in fresh coronavirus infections in the city has led to beds filling up fast in major government hospitals in the city. In fact, a significant number of patients required oxygen support.

At the Government Medical College Hospital, Omandurar Estate, one of the earliest exclusive COVID-19 facilities in the city, 521 beds of the total 575 have been occupied. Of this, 337 patients were COVID-19 positive, while the remaining were patients with suspected symptoms of COVID-19.

“The cases are on the rise and the admissions are proportionate to it. Around two-third of the patients required oxygen. We are admitting persons who have comorbidities and those with significant lung involvement. We are seeing more young persons with lung involvement. We are also seeing sudden deterioration in patients, including the young,” R. Jayanthi, Dean of the hospital, said.

The Government Corona Hospital situated on the premises of the King Institute of Preventive Medicine, Guindy, was filled up nearly 20 days ago due to a steady flow of patients. The hospital has a total of 500 beds.

“As of 6 p.m. on Saturday, we have 462 patients. We have reserved 15 beds for emergencies to resuscitate patients,” said K. Narayanasamy, Director of the hospital. At any given point in time, 150 to 200 patients require oxygen, he said.

Admission depended on the number of patients discharged a day, he said, adding: “At least 80 to 90 patients are discharged a day. Another 10 persons, who have recovered, are shifted to the COVID-19 Health Centre at the K.K. Nagar Peripheral Hospital. Persons aged 30 years with no comorbidities are sent to the Athipet COVID-19 Care Centre after evaluation.”

As the hospital sees a steady flow of patients seeking admission, the administration has put in place a team, including a doctor and nurse near the hospital’s entrance to screen patients for fever, oxygen saturation level and blood parameters prior to triaging.

P. Balaji, Dean of the Government Stanley Medical College Hospital, said 337 beds were occupied, of the total 1,200 COVID-19 beds. Of the 1,150 beds allotted at the Athipet care centre, 143 were occupied.

“We are facing an increase in the number of patients. On average, we admit 60 to 70 persons a day. While we send asymptomatic patients to home quarantine or to care centres after evaluation, we immediately admit patients who need oxygen and those who need further treatment due to comorbidities,” he said. He added that 60% to 70% of the patients admitted required oxygen. “Overcrowding in public places should definitely stop,” he said.

At the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, Dean E. Theranirajan said of the total 1,618 COVID-19 beds, the current in-patient strength was 650. Of this, 402 were positive patients and the remaining comprised patients with suspected symptoms. With a total bed capacity of 450, the Government Kilpauk Medical College Hospital had 260 patients, according to Dean P. Vasanthamani.

Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan earlier told reporters that patients were directly approaching the Government Corona Hospital and Omandurar Hospital for admission, while 50% of beds were vacant in the RGGGH. “Do not go to hospitals directly. The Greater Chennai Corporation has screening facilities where doctors will check for parameters, including blood profile, X-ray and lung involvement and then decide,” he said.

A hospital authority noted that many patients, who approached for admission after taking chest CT scans, were being told that they had mild findings.

“We are flooded with such patients. Do not take CT scans. The first line of investigation is the RT-PCR test. X-ray is adequate, and CT is indicated only for severe symptoms, such as breathing difficulty,” he said.

A senior doctor said the rapidity of transmission had caught them unawares. “The rise in cases happened steadily last year, while it is too quick now,” he said. While there was a need for more manpower, he said in the advent of the sudden surge in cases, protective apparel, such as personal protective equipment, N95 masks and gloves, should be supplied in large numbers to ensure that the healthcare force was adequately protected.

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