In the face of unending complaints from Covid-19 patients about being turned away from hospitals which constantly cite non-availability of beds, civic authorities have decided to take over Central government-run hospitals—Employees' State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) hospitals—in the city for Covid treatment. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation plans to set up 1,000 Covid beds, of which 30 per cent will be reserved for the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
This comes after the Central government's nod for the requisition process to increase bed strength. There are five ESIC hospitals, in Worli, Parel, Kandivli, Andheri and Mulund, which will be completely dedicated to Covid patients.
“It was learnt that many private hospitals do not have beds for critically ill patients, who are forced to run pillar to post to get admitted. In the light of this situation, we decided to take over ESIC hospitals and convert it into Covid hospitals during this pandemic,” said an official.
According to BMC data, there are 1,163 ICU beds, of which 1,152 (99 per cent) are occupied, followed by 483(95 per cent) of 507 ventilator beds are occupied, as are 3,905 (75 per cent) of 5,202 oxygenated beds.
“Adding these five hospitals will solve 10 per cent of the bed availability issue, of which 700 will be reserved for isolation and 300 for the ICU. We have already started treating and admitting patients at the Mahatma Gandhi Hospital in Parel,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani.
Currently, there are five dedicated Covid-19 hospitals— BYL Nair, SevenHills, Kasturba, St George and GT Hospital. Of these, other than SevenHills Hospital in Marol, all other Covid hospitals are in South Mumbai. So the availability of two Covid hospitals in the western and central suburbs of Kandivli and Mulund respectively, should be a slight improvement.
The ESIC hospital at Marol in Andheri east has been dysfunctional since a fire broke out there in 2018, killing 11 people, including patients.
“At Kandivli Hospital, we will start a 300-bed facility for Covid patients,” he added. The Central government had spent Rs180 crore in the construction of this hospital, which was inaugurated in 2015 but started functioning only in 2019.
ESIC hospitals come under the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment. Central government employees can obtain free treatment at these hospitals across the country.