Mumbai: BMC asks private hospitals to discharge asymptomatic patients
Municipal corporation moves to free up beds for serious patients as Mumbai's daily cases continue to hover around the 2,000 mark
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is once again looking at doing something it had done back in June as the daily COVID-19 figures continue to remain around 2,000. The civic body has directed 60 private hospitals in the city to urgently discharge asymptomatic patients and make space for those with symptoms. A committee, which will conduct surprise visits to hospitals from next week, is also being formed.
According to the circular released by the public health department on September 19, the civic body wants to focus on using the 'existing resources judiciously'. It further adds that asymptomatic patients don't need admission at dedicated COVID health care facilities or in public/private hospitals. Private hospitals have been directed to stop admitting asymptomatic patients and discharge the existing ones immediately. Back in June, when there was a similar crisis, the civic body had asked private hospitals to stop admitting patients directly since most of the beds were occupied by asymptomatic patients.
People undergo checks for COVID-19 at a BMC parking lot in Dadar West on Monday
While those who have a separate toilet at home would be sent back for home isolation and those living in slum areas would be shifted to a CCC2 facility. Dr Gautam Bhansali, chief coordinator for private hospitals and consultant physician with Bombay Hospital said that surprise visits would be carried out to ensure that private hospitals follow the regulations.
'Checks will start soon'
"We are in the process of forming a committee that will include two to three doctors each from the private and government sectors. In a couple of days, we will start the surprise visits," he said. He added that private hospitals had been asked to discharge the asymptomatic patients by end of Monday.
Requesting anonymity, a senior official from a private hospital said, "Sometimes asymptomatic patients with co-morbidities develop symptoms a few days later and their condition often deteriorates quickly. They might not be able to find a bed then since ICU beds are mostly occupied." He added that on Monday, the BMC asked the 33 large private hospitals and 27 nursing homes to submit data on how many ICU, oxygenated and general beds were occupied and details of asymptomatic patients as well.
Lauding the decision, Dr V Ravishankar, CEO of Lilavati Hospital said that they had been admitting only symptomatic patients. "Currently, most of the patients have co-morbidities but the beds need to be available to treat those with severe symptoms. We are following it strictly and I check the heart rate and oxygen saturation level of every patient at the time of admission," he said, adding that whether a patient would be admitted or not is the discretion of the treating consultant.
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