Coronavirus | Mumbai runs out of beds in ICUs, patients suffer

Mounting vigil:  A doctor taking a swab of a resident at  Kalyan Wadi in Dharavi on Thursday.

Mounting vigil: A doctor taking a swab of a resident at Kalyan Wadi in Dharavi on Thursday.

A 42-year-old Unani practitioner from Mumbai’s Govandi area with severe breathlessness, diarrhoea and failing kidney function had to wait nearly 30 hours to get an Intensive Care Unit bed with dialysis facility. By the time he got it on Thursday morning at the SL Raheja Hospital in Mahim, his condition was critical.

The family’s ordeal continued even after getting a bed as no ambulance was ready to ferry a patient who had potentially been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 exposure. “One driver eventually agreed but he said that we cannot use the bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machine [for intensive breathing assistance] from his ambulance. So, we took the risk and shifted him merely on oxygen support,” said the patient’s brother.

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Nearly 40 days after the SARS-CoV-2 hit Mumbai, the city’s health infrastructure is crumbling with persons suffering from other diseases scurrying for beds. The city has 1,900 isolation beds and nearly 200 ICU beds.

The city reported its first positive case on March 11. On Thursday, the total number of cases had gone up to 2,073, and the death toll in the city to 117.

In another case, a 49-year-old man from Agripada who was admitted to the Kasturba Hospital died on Wednesday night waiting for a better facility. “We tried at least five hospitals, including Seven Hills and Saifee, but none had any vacant ICU beds,” said Samajwadi Party legislator Rais Shaikh who was helping the family. The patient’s condition had been deteriorating for three days.

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The State government has identified— Nanavati, St. George, Saifee, Wockhardt, HBT Trauma Care and Seven Hills Hospitals —as critical care hospitals for COVID-19. Nanavati has 20 ICU beds for COVID-19, running at full occupancy. Three beds were vacant on Thursday evening after the patients were discharged. Saifee activated 63 beds for COVID-19 patients of which 26 are ICU beds. All were occupied on Thursday. Seven Hills has eight ICU beds managed by HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, and all have been full since the past several days. The HBT Trauma Care and St. George hospitals have five and 10 ICU beds respectively. However, St. George Hospital is yet to start admitting COVID-19 patients. The Wockhardt Hospital was shut after 52 healthcare workers tested positive and it was declared a containment zone. The hospital is yet to restart and is currently being sanitised.

“Those who require critical care spend about 8-10 days in the ICU. Some patients get worse in the second week which prolongs their ICU stay,” said an infectious disease expert, adding that the city has always been short of ICU beds and the requirement has multiplied now.

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Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said that the administration was taking several measures to free up beds for symptomatic COVID-19 patients. “We have started shifting asymptomatic patients to hotels, guest houses and other designated as Covid Care Centres (CCC). This will provide beds for patients with symptoms,” he said, adding that the city currently has 1,900 isolation beds and nearly 200 ICU beds. “If patients shifted in CCC’s develop mild symptoms, they will be shifted to smaller health centres which are running with skeletal staff,” he added.

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2022 5:35:59 am |