Coronavirus: Delhi wants more beds, but private hospitals are concerned
To ensure that the National Capital is well-prepared as coronavirus cases are surging, the Delhi government asked private hospitals to reserve 20% of their beds. Across Delhi, 117 private hospitals will follow this diktat. But hospitals are against this move and have warned that "mixing" patients will lead to an influx of infections. They will write to the government for a review.
Yesterday, while addressing the press, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said private hospitals will have to reserve 20% of their beds to treat patients of the highly contagious disease. "Our government on Sunday ordered 117 private hospitals in the city to reserve 20% of their beds for coronavirus patients. Now, 2,000 beds are available in the private sector from today," he said.
Giving a warning to private hospitals, Kejriwal said they can't turn away COVID-19 patients. "Two days back I got to know that a private hospital had turned away a patient who tested positive for coronavirus. We have sent them a show-cause notice," he said. It's the private hospital's responsibility to arrange an ambulance and bed for coronavirus patients, he added.
The order to dedicate some beds for COVID-19 patients didn't sit well with private hospitals. Delhi Medical Association's President Dr. Girish Tyagi said smaller hospitals don't have different entry and exit points, unlike the bigger ones, and this could lead to an increase in infections. Dr. PK Bharadwaj, secretary, Delhi Voluntary Hospitals forum, agreed and said India should learn from experiences of other countries.
Bharadwaj told HT, "In countries such as Italy and Spain, treating COVID-19 patients alongside non-COVID-19 patients led to several hospitals becoming transmission hotspots." In Italy, the first European nation to be ripped apart by the virus, doctors had said a large number of healthy people caught the infection from hospitals. In England, 20% of those being treated for other ailments got infected.
Earlier, the government thought to treat COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients simultaneously in government hospitals too, but later dedicated Lok Nayak (2,000 beds) and Rajiv Gandhi Superspecialty (500 beds) hospitals only to coronavirus patients. Experts believed the same should be done. The bigger private hospitals should be taken over, said Dr. T Jacob, the former head of the virology department, Christian Medical College, Vellore.
"The government was to scale up its facilities during the lockdown. So why does it need to acquire private hospitals? And even if they do, they should take over whole hospitals, pay the rent and salary of the staff and manage cases there," he said.
Even before this order was communicated, private hospitals said they were overwhelmed with cases. Nearly 80% of the beds earmarked in eight private hospitals, including Apollo, Max Smart, Fortis, were occupied, reports TOI. Hospital authorities are now worried about accommodating their own staff if they contract the infection. With 14,053 cases, Delhi is the fourth-most affected state. 276 have lost their lives.