KERALA

Pvt. hospitals asked to set aside 900 beds for COVID treatment

With the number of COVID-19 patients increasing steadily, government employees, including police personnel, are being tested for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Here, an officer undergoes antigen test at the office of the Inspector General of Police in Kochi on Tuesday.ThulasiKakkat

With the number of COVID-19 patients increasing steadily, government employees, including police personnel, are being tested for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Here, an officer undergoes antigen test at the office of the Inspector General of Police in Kochi on Tuesday.ThulasiKakkat  

After consultations with private hospitals, the district administration hopes to set aside about 900 beds in the private sector for COVID treatment, while staff from the private sector is also likely to be roped in for COVID hospitals managed by the government.

About 205 patients are admitted at the Government Medical College Hospital, Kalamassery, the only functioning COVID hospital in the district for tertiary care, which has the capacity to treat 300 patients.

Of them, 184 patients remain positive, while most others are awaiting negative test results.

While the number of patients requiring hospital care looks set to climb with the district recording over a 100 positive cases for four consecutive days, PVS Hospital, that can accommodate about 200 critically-ill patients, is still under maintenance, although work on making it operational began a few months ago.

“About 800 to 900 beds will be set aside at around 10 private hospitals for seriously-ill patients. Private hospitals will have to support the system, and the COVID patient load will have to be spread out across a number of these hospitals, rather than converting just one or two into COVID facilities,” said Sub Collector Snehil Kumar Singh.

The district programme management and supporting unit (DPMSU) set up to coordinate hospital, ambulance and FLTC related work, has decided that if a patient admitted at a private hospital tests positive for the virus, the hospital would have to treat them and not shift them to the MCH unless the patient is unable to afford treatment at a private hospital, he said.

‘Not legally binding’

“The strategy is that once the MCH and PVS Hospital reach 50% of their capacity, private hospitals will have to step in to ease the load. This has been communicated to all hospitals and the number of beds set aside at private hospitals is a dynamic number that could increase later,” he said.

“We are negotiating with private hospitals and trying to prep them on the requirement that could arise. It is not legally binding on them to set aside a specific number of beds,” he said.

Retaining a balance between COVID and non-COVID treatment facilities is crucial, he added.

In an online briefing on Tuesday, District Collector S. Suhas had said that around 81 patients were currently being treated at private facilities.

Official’s stance

To convert PVS Hospital into a COVID hospital, staff was being sought from the private sector as well, a Health Department official associated with the process said.

“Having designated COVID hospitals rather than taking COVID patients to private hospitals is necessary to prevent the infection from spreading to these other hospitals. Such a spread could cause a collapse of the healthcare system,” he said.

“At PVS hospital, we are hoping to set up a system where private hospitals can spare a few nurses, attenders, and doctors, and continue to pay them, while the government offers some incentive,” the official said.

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