CHENNAI: As the war against Covid-19 is getting intense, patient attenders in the city are hunting for beds while nearly 1,000 beds in private medical colleges of adjoining districts are lying vacant.
While active cases in the city and adjoining districts climbed to 22,000, the state dashboard showed that all 215 Covid beds in four private hospitals in Tiruvallur district were vacant. ACS Medical College, which has allotted more than 195 beds, hasn’t admitted even one patient so far. At 10.30pm on Thursday, when TOI contacted the hospital on 9003060052 – displayed by the medical college on the dashboard – the spokesperson said: “We don’t admit patients. Our beds have been taken over by the government.”
In South, just 24 of the 594 beds in hospitals and medical colleges in Kancheepuram were occupied. More than 300 beds in Sri Muthukumaran Medical College and Madha Medical College and Research Institute were vacant. The contact person at Madha Medical College said they had only six ICU beds and two ventilators and wouldn’t be able to admit those above 60 years or those with co-morbidities. “All are occupied,” he said. Eighteen of the 200 other beds in the hospital were occupied. At Sri Muthukumaran only six patients were admitted.
Within Chennai, institutions such as Sri Ramachandra Medical College Hospital, Saveetha Medical Hospital and SRM Medical College were admitting patients, but many new colleges were turning away patients. An official at Bhaarath Medical College and Hospital in Selaiyur, where 60 beds have been allotted, when contacted on 8825664561, said they did not have adequate staff for Covid-19 patients. “Government said doctors and staff will be posted,” he said. In several other colleges, there was no response to calls.
IMA state secretary Dr A K Ravikumar said many private hospitals were hampered in terms of infrastructure and manpower. “Government norms prescribe certain specifications for Covid wards.” If a hospital agrees to treat Covid patients, a third of its doctors and nurses must be in quarantine so they can be called for duty when others are infected. “Only large hospitals can manage this.”
Doctors’ bodies and public health activists have been demanding a single window system to allot patients to the nearest hospital, but the health department says it could be complicated. “Most patients prefer a few big hospitals,” said health secretary J Radhakrishnan. “These are overcrowded. We are now planning to come up with a call centre which will guide a patient to the nearest private facility in case the one he/she wants to go to government hospitals,” he said.