Flooded with calls for help, Pune Municipal Corporation struggles to provide beds for Covid patients

With over 15,000 active cases in the city as on March 17, the civic body has been getting frantic calls seeking beds for patients with the infection.

The Pune civic administration is struggling to provide beds to Covid-19 patients as the number of beds in government hospitals is limited and it no longer has a tie-up with private hospitals.

With over 15,000 active cases in the city as on March 17, the civic body has been getting frantic calls seeking beds for patients with the infection. “There are many such calls… and we have been able to make arrangements for around 150 critical patients, while turning down other requests based on the severity of the patient’s condition,” said a civic health officer.

The PMC’s helpline facility has been getting queries throughout the day. “There are only a few government hospitals with ICU and oxygen facilities, which are for critical patients. The patients were first referred to the dedicated Covid hospital in Baner but it had no available beds. They are then referred to Naidu and Sassoon General Hospitals,” he said.

“The PMC had earlier signed an agreement with private hospitals and reserved 20 per cent beds for patients referred by the civic body, for which the treatment expenses were incurred by the PMC. Now, the agreement with private hospitals is over and the civic body is unable to refer patients to private hospitals,” said the officer, adding that those who can afford to get treated at private hospitals are directly reaching out to the respective hospitals.

Assistant Medical Officer Manisha Naik said the shortage of beds is mainly due to patients demanding admission in select big private hospitals of the city which are filled to capacity. “We have asked private hospitals to slowly increase the bed capacity for treatment of Covid-19 patients,” she said.

However, the situation is likely to change after the jumbo hospital restarts its operations. “There will be availability of additional ICU and oxygen beds to treat the critical patients once the jumbo hospital restarts,” said Naik.

Assistant Medical Officer Anjali Sabane said the PMC has recently extended its agreement with Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital for three months to make available 100 oxygen beds and 15 beds with ventilators for treatment of critical patients referred by the civic body. “There is no need to extend the agreement with more private hospitals as all hospitals are now treating Covid-19 patients. The agreements were signed during the beginning of the pandemic as there were no dedicated beds for treatment of Covid-19 patients in private hospitals then,” she said.

The PMC has also been running Covid Care Centres (CCCs) in Khedkar hospital in Bopodi and Dalvi hospital in Shivajinagar and will set up four more CCCs on March 20.

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The 800-bed jumbo hospital started functioning in August end, but patient admissions were stopped on January 15 after the number of active cases dropped in the city. The contract for the hospital ended on February 6 and is now being renewed to restart the hospital.

According to PMC, there are a total of 3,657 beds available for treatment of Covid-19 patients in the city, including 833 in government hospitals and 2,824 in private hospitals. These also include 309 ICU beds with ventilators, 236 ICU beds without ventilators, 2,014 beds with oxygen and 1,098 beds without oxygen.

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