Finding hospital beds a big struggle

Poor response: Only a few residents turn up for a health check-up held in Dharavi on Thursday.

Poor response: Only a few residents turn up for a health check-up held in Dharavi on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: Vijay Bate

City has 4,678 beds for COVID-19 patients, more to be added by month-end

A 55-year-old man from Prabhadevi was rushed to KEM Hospital in Parel on May 10 after he complained of severe breathlessness. With no bed available, the doctors told him to sit wherever he could find space and started him on an intravenous drip. As anxiety of being in a crowded place set in, he asked his wife to take him back home as soon as the drip finished. His condition deteriorated at home and he died the next day.

‘Chaos at hospital’

“He was sitting on a chair with the saline bottle. The chaos at the hospital made him restless,” his 26-year-old nephew told The Hindu over phone from Poddar Hospital, where he is in quarantine with four other family members. His uncle’s samples were collected at KEM and returned positive after his death. “If he had been admitted immediately, he would have been alive,” he said.

Unavailability of beds has been a crucial problem with patients being shunted from one hospital to another.

The family of a 57-year-old man from Shivaji Nagar, who passed away this month, had a similar story. The man complained of breathing difficulty and was rushed to a hospital in Ghatkopar. The family was told they were admitting only COVID-19 patients, and doctors did not suspect he was infected.

They took him to another hospital in Kurla. “They checked his blood oxygen level which was very low and said they could not admit him,” said the deceased’s 32-year-old son.

He then took his father to Somaiya, Shatabdi and Rajawadi hospitals where no beds were available. “After roaming around for eight hours, we got him admitted to KEM where he died three days later on May 3,” he said.

Another 44-year-old, who worked in a shipping company at Masjid Bunder, was taken to four hospitals — Joy, Rajawadi, Kasturba and Nair — where beds were full. He was admitted to St. George Hospital, where he died.

The city has 4,678 beds for COVID-19 patients, of which over 1,000 beds are in the private sector. “We are augmenting beds to ensure 24x7 availability for patients in need. We are commissioning two wards on a daily basis,” said Manisha Mhaiskar, principal secretary on special deputation to the BMC.

‘No waiting list for beds’

“We are following a rigorous transfer and discharge protocol, which is helping in making beds available,” she said, adding that the 1916 helpline now has no waiting list for beds and the doctors are able to help callers with real-time data. Efforts are on to increase beds to 6,000 by the month-end, she said.

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 7:27:18 AM |

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