Coronavirus in Mumbai: City hospitals go from bed shortage to vacancies; 30-35% COVID-19 beds lying vacant

Mumbai: Three months into the pandemic, the city seems to have run the gamut when it comes to hospital beds, going from critical shortages to vacancies. For the first time in the past couple of months, around 30-35 per cent of beds are lying vacant at the major hospitals treating critical Covid-19 patients in the city. Until recently, there were only nine intensive care unit beds available, and this number has gone up 12-fold, to 108, on June 23.

Civic officials and health experts attribute this to several factors, including a decrease in the number of critical cases and more people opting for home isolation. “We do not know the reason for the decline in admissions. It’s possible that with the activation of ward-level war rooms, patients are distributed better,” said an official.

According to the dashboard of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, until June 23, the city had 30,063 active cases, but only 12,183 of 18,392 hospital beds were occupied, 60 per cent are undergoing treatment at the hospitals or quarantine or home isolated. “There has been a drastic reduction in the number of patients, as until June 6, bed vacancies were six per cent and this number stood at 34 per cent as on June 23,” said an official.

Another indicator of a marginal decline in admissions in critical cases has been the decrease in the occupancy of ICU beds. The occupancy rate, which was 99 per cent through April and May, has come down to 92 per cent. On Thursday evening, 108 of the 1,362 ICU beds in the city were vacant.

Dr Hemant Deshmukh, dean, King Edward Memorial Hospital, said they had 490 Covid-19 bed facilities for critical patients and daily admissions had dropped by half, down to 35-40 last week from the earlier 70 to 80. “Daily, we have been witnessing a drop in admission of critical as well as other patients. Almost 25 per cent of beds in the hospital are vacant and now, we are seeing more of mild to moderate cases, who are discharged within eight days and then observe home isolation for another 14 days,” he said.

A similar trend has been seen at BYL Nair and Lokmanya Tilak General Municipal Hospitals, the former, a dedicated Covid-19 hospital where daily admissions now number 50-60. “It is good news for Mumbai, as daily admissions at the hospitals are decreasing. Earlier, there used to be 90 admissions a day. Almost 40-60 per cent of the cases are mild to moderate,” said Dr Ramesh Bharmal, dean, Sion hospital.

Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said more patients were opting for home care. “An increasing number of people in high-rises are opting to stay home and be treated. The rush to get admitted has definitely reduced,” he said.

“Doctors from the ward-level war rooms follow up with patients in home isolation. Many patients also consult their own doctors. The city currently has 963 critical patients,” Kakani said.

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