Mumbai: New bed allocation norm helps reduce demand for ICU beds: BMC

Four days after issuing a new protocol for allocating beds to covid19 patients, BMC officials have said that the demand for ICU beds is gradually declining. According to senior BMC officials, the criteria of medical checkup of symptomatic Covid19 patients at their residence before allocating beds has led to the systematic allocation of beds, saving ICU, oxygen and ventilators beds only for critical patients.

To ensure effective bed management, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Friday decided to allocate symptomatic Covid-19 patients a bed only after examination by its medical staff at the patient’s home. For this, BMC issued a new protocol to be followed on admitting Covid-19 patients at hospitals which came into effect from Sunday, April 25.

A senior BMC official said, “In the past three months, the number of Covid-19 patients has increased and there are reports and complaints that patients are having difficulty in getting a bed. The BMC helpline number 1916 was earlier getting around 2,500 calls daily, but the number of calls shot up to around 5,000 calls a day. This step will help in ensuring effective bed allocation.”

According to BMC officials, all 24 wards have been directed to have 10 teams that are 10 ambulances per ward on standby equipped with medical staff including doctors who will visit patients’ houses and check their parameters to understand the type of bed required for admission.

According to BMC officials, this way, patients are allotted beds as per their need and medical condition, and not just based on their explanation or narration of their medical condition.

"Despite increasing the number of beds aggressively across the city, we found that the complaints non-availability of bed a little weird and unreasonable. Hence we wanted to put in place a full-proof system wherein we can closely monitor the types of beds being assigned to patients who are tested positive. Before patients and their relatives demanded types of beds citing their symptoms. We realised this was a problem, hence we discussed and we thought that the solution will be to conduct a medical check-up of symptomatic patients to understand if they really need the type of ned they are demanding?" Additional Municipal Commissioner (Health) Suresh Kakani told the FPJ.

Kakani added: "Within a few days of implementing the new protocol for bed allocation, we found that after allocating beds after medical checkup the demand and occupancy of ICU beds are declining gradually. It is just a psychological thing when patients and their relatives looking at their symptoms feels that they need to be admitted to ICU or need oxygen beds when don't actually need one. The problem has been rectified so far and we putting all efforts to make their bed available to patients according to their needs."

Dr UA Mehta, a city-based general physician said that the set up might go wrong in case of emergency cases. He said: "Total ten teams per ward, meaning 240 medical staff assigned will be visiting every symptomatic patient for a medical check before allocating beds, which means around 1,000 or more patients per day. In that case, if the patient is facing an emergency, this will lead to losing crucial time in making them wait for the team to check them. The BMC will have to make exceptions in case of emergency for those who need urgent stabilisation process.”

Kakani said, “Those with emergencies, will be dealt with accordingly and help will reach immediately. We are already ensuring nobody suffers, the new protocol was issued just so that critical patients do not lose on crucial time and get beds on time."

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