COVID-19: Mumbai down to last 153 ICU beds and 63 ventilators

Updated: 18 September, 2020 07:11 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

The constant rise in COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks has begun to show in availability of ICU beds in Mumbai hospitals

A BMC medical worker takes swab samples of residents of Mahaveer Apartment, Newmill Road, Kurla, on Thursday. Pics/ Sayyed Sameer Abedi
A BMC medical worker takes swab samples of residents of Mahaveer Apartment, Newmill Road, Kurla, on Thursday. Pics/ Sayyed Sameer Abedi

Even as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the city, complaints of insufficient ICU beds
have started to resurface with patients struggling to find one. Even though 27 smaller private hospitals have been allowed to start admitting COVID-19 patients from September 15, corporators and social workers feel more of those should be roped in to improve access to critical care. However, some corporators said that patients with severe symptoms prefer private hospitals, but they were being turned away.

FOR Prashant Soni, 31, the ordeal started on September 8 when his 52-year-old father tested positive and he ended up admitting him in a hospital in Malad that still doesn't have permission to treat COVID patients. "My father's oxygen saturation has been at 85 per cent for several days and despite being in the ICU, his condition is not improving. I have been trying to shift him to another hospital but I cannot find a bed anywhere," he said.

According to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), as on September 16 afternoon, 153 ICU beds and 63 ventilators were available in private and public hospitals. Some corporators, however, said that patients with severe symptoms prefer private hospitals, but they were being turned away.

Bharatiya Janata Party corporator Vinod Mishra said there were five other hospitals in his ward with more than 50 ICU beds, which should have been opened too. "These hospitals fulfill all the criteria of having specialists, ventilators and infrastructure. At a time when there is a surge in the number of cases, the civic body should open other hospitals too so that people do not have to run around looking for beds," he added.

'Beds filling up'

Dr Aniruddh Ambekar, CEO of Lifeline Medicare Hospitals, said that over the past three days, two of his hospitals that started treating COVID-19 patients this week, saw a surge in cases. "The ICU beds are filling up. While one hospital is full, the other one is 80 per cent occupied. We are trying to cope with the situation," he added.

Congress MLA Amin Patel said that one of the reasons behind the current situation was the reluctance to get tested. "Most people only get tested after they have had fever for four to five days. Thereafter, their symptoms become severe and they need ICU beds. As oxymeters are now easily available, if they come forward for early detection, there won't be a need for critical care and they can be admitted to any centre," he said.

Check-ups for COVID-19 being conducted at Kurla on Thursday. PICs/SAYYED SAMEER ABEDI
Check-ups for COVID-19 being conducted at Kurla on Thursday

Patel added that a dedicated health care facility with 50 oxygenated beds had been started in Najambaug, Dongri for mild to moderate patients. Similarly, Saquib Khan, a social worker from Agripada said that since Ganeshotsav there had been a 40 per cent increase in the number of cases, which would rise further in the coming week.

'Money not an issue'

"Many suspected and confirmed patients are suffering from breathlessness and need oxygenated beds. Money is no longer the issue. Even with hefty deposits, hospitals like Saifee, Wockhardt are saying that they have a long waiting list. There is a desperate need for additional ICU beds with doctors who have proper training for critical care," he said.

The civic body has been focusing on increasing resources for critical patients in the city. While 100 additional ICU beds were allocated for SevenHills Hospital, NESCO centre in Goregaon was supposed to add 200 ICU beds. While work to add more beds at SevenHills is yet to begin, the hospital staff said that they were already stretched.

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"We are understaffed and it is chaotic here. We have been asking for more beds and now they want to expand the ICU services," said a doctor at SevenHills. Sources said that at NESCO they have started with 50 beds but more staff was needed to make the remaining 150 beds available to the public.

When contacted, civic chief Iqbal Singh Chahal said, "We will open up 224 new ICU beds at NESCO by Sunday. We don't have plans of allowing more private hospitals to admit COVID-19 patients."

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First Published: 18 September, 2020 07:05 IST

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