Reacting to news reports about scarcity of COVID beds at corporate hospitals in and around Hyderabad, Telangana Super Speciality Hospitals Association (TSSHA) members said the need for maintaining social distancing inside hospitals, workforce crunch and lack of ventilators have restricted them from putting to use all the beds available with him.
TSSHA president and managing director of KIMS Hospitals, B. Bhaskar Rao said while 600-700 patients could be admitted to 1,000-bed hospitals earlier, they are now able to accommodate only 200 to 250 patients to observe distancing norms.
It was published in these columns that 11 out of 23 private or corporate hospitals listed in Telangana government’s website (covid19.telangana.gov.in) did not have COVID beds as on June 22 while six were not admitting COVID patients. Three others did not respond to calls and two hospitals did not get back with a response. Beds for coronavirus patients were available only at one of the 23 hospitals.
Since calling up all 23 hospitals in times of distress can be a harrowing experience, it was suggested that an online or offline platform be created to display live status of bed availability in private and government hospitals.
Giving a rough idea of distribution of beds in a 1,000-bed hospital, the TSSHA president said around 100-150 will be single room beds, another 100-150 are isolation beds, rest are on twin sharing and general ward beds. While two to three patients could be admitted in general wards earlier, only one patient is admitted now. “So the bed count has come down by one-third, or by half,” Dr Rao said.
Healthcare professionals, including ward boys, nursing staff, senior and junior doctors, cannot be made to work for 30 days at a stretch now as they have to be under quarantine for a week after duty to prevent exposing their families to risk. Even if beds are available, the workforce would not be available, and social distancing has to be maintained, reasoned Dr Rao.
“Currently, severe patients (those with severe symptoms) need ventilator support. Even if treatment has to be provided, sufficient ventilators are not available. That is why we are forced to say beds not available,” he added.
One of the solutions floated is to keep the beds available by isolating asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic COVID patients at home. Corporate hospitals have announced home quarantine packages too.
The association members said they are planning to take over hotels to keep people under quarantine in case one does not have the required space or facilities at home. However, the low workforce is a challenge they have to resolve.
Regarding distress among patients in enquiring about bed availability, Dr Rao said they do not mind sharing a phone number on which that information can be given out, twice a day.