COVID-19 isolation beds are fully occupied in at least 11 out of the 23 corporate/private hospitals in and around Hyderabad listed as having isolation wards. Six more said they are not admitting COVID patients. Only one corporate hospital said beds are available.

This information came to the fore after The Hindu on Monday contacted the 23 private healthcare facilities listed as ‘Isolation Centres’ on the government’s official website on coronavirus (covid19.telangana.gov.in). A click on a hospital’s name in the list leads to its geographic location, address and contact details.

While some of 11 hospitals where beds are full asked this reporter to call on Tuesday to find out the availability status, one informed that beds would not be available for the next one week.

Not all the hospitals listed in the government website are admitting COVID-19 patients. The medical service for COVID patients is not available at six of the hospitals. “The arrangements are under way. The services will be available in two to three days,” said an employee of one of the six hospitals located on the city outskirts.

Calls to three hospitals went unanswered, and two of them did not get back with any response.

Officials from the Telangana Health department, on the other hand, said that a large number of COVID isolation beds are available at government hospitals. “Only one-fourth of the beds (550) are occupied at Gandhi Hospital. Besides the low case load, additional staff is appointed there. So, services have improved. Around 4,000 people who got admitted at government hospital have recovered,” a senior official said.

‘Display bed status’

When The Hindu tried to enquire about the bed availability over phone, it took more than one and a half hours to call all the 23 hospitals and get information. Imagine the anxiety of the family of a COVID patient who has to spend precious 90 minutes on just figuring out hospital admission details.

Family members of two patients said when they called, the private hospitals said COVID beds are not available. The distress among patients and families could be mitigated if live status of COVID beds availability is displayed prominently online or on an offline medium.

Mujtaba Hasan Askari, trustee of Helping Hands Foundation, an NGO involved in aiding underprivileged access medical services, said that he gets at least three calls a day for enquiries on availability of beds in private hospitals. “There is an urgent and acute need to set up a command and control room with a helpline to inform public about the availability of beds and treatment at both private and government hospitals. This will make access to treatment easy and save lives,” he said.

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