Mumbai: City hospitals face ventilator, ICU shortage amid Covid surge

Private and government hospitals in Mumbai are facing an immense shortage of ventilators and intensive care units (ICUs). According to the civic dashboard, only one per cent of ICU and ventilators beds are vacant across the city, while only 18 per cent of overall Covid beds are vacant to cater to more than 80,000 active cases.

Civic officials said considering the current situation of rising cases due to which demands of beds have increased by almost 70-80 per cent in the last one month due to which they will be adding up additional 2,000 beds soon to handle the patient flow. Recently they had added 325 ICU beds which are also occupied by patients.

As of April 15, as many as 16,308 beds were occupied out of the 20,044 Covid-19 beds. Of the vacant beds, only 630 were in private hospitals. The city has 40 ICU beds available (out of a total of 2,692) and 14 ventilators available (out of a total of 1349).

According to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani, a shortage of beds is being felt in the private sector particularly as a large number of patients are now coming from housing complexes and high rises.

“Considering the patients preferring private hospitals more instead of government we are now planning to convert the entire hospitals into Covid-only centres,” he said.

Moreover, they are also adding ICU beds at its various hospitals. “The NESCO facility in Goregaon will soon have 200 ICU beds, while 34 ICU beds will be added to SevenHills Hospital in Andheri within a week,” said Kakani. BMC’s Cooper Hospital in Juhu will make all its 40 ICU beds available for Covid patients.

Senior doctors said they are returning new patients from the jumbo centres as all the ICUs and ventilators are full. “We are allowed to admit patients only as per the war-room referral. We do not have ventilators, but general beds at present,” said Dr Rajesh Dere, dean, BKC jumbo covid centre.

Dr Neelam Andrade, dean at the NESCO facility, said they have 1,500 patients admitted and are running ICUs and ventilators with full capacity. “I have asked for 25 more ventilators. We expect the delivery by night,” she said. The jumbo facility is also creating a 600-bed facility to increase its patient intake capacity.

Health experts said many hospitals are complaining of a shortage of ICU beds. So, on priority, the civic body should increase the ICU beds to provide timely treatment to patients who have been severely infected. Major private hospitals like Lilavati, Nanavati, Saifee and Bombay Hospital have run out of ICU beds that keep patients on waiting lists.

“The flow of patients has increased. As soon as a patient gets discharged from the ICU, we admit another one. So, we don’t have any vacant beds at the moment,” said a senior doctor from a private hospital.

Dr Gautam Bhansali, in charge of COVID beds at private hospitals, said If the surge continues, the BMC may have to think out of the box. “Since the demand is mainly for private hospitals, the BMC may consider converting entire hospitals into Covid facilities ac-ross south Mumbai and suburbs. However, we are studying how many non-Covid patients are in hospitals and what their occupancy is like,” he said.

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