Mumbai: Jumbo centres on standby with an eye on 2nd COVID-19 wave
To conserve funds and resources, these facilities are also now temporarily cutting down on staff
The city has recorded fewer than 1,000 COVID-19 cases all week and jumbo facilities, including the NESCO exhibition centre in Goregaon and the one in BKC, have seen a drop in the number of new admissions. So, in order to conserve funds and resources, these are now cutting down on their staff, but will keep them on standby for the second wave of infections expected early next year.
At the BKC COVID facility, dean Dr Rajesh Dere said that only 35-40 per cent of the beds are currently occupied with around 450 patients, the services of 20-25 per cent of the staff are being discontinued. "There are few patients now and beds are empty. In order to save the BMC's funds and resources, we are letting nearly 70 ward boys go. We can always bring them back if cases rise," he said.
Only 250 patients at NESCO
At the NESCO centre, the contract for around 60 doctors are not being renewed. Dean Dr Neelam Andrade said the centre, which has a capacity of 2,000 patients, currently has only around 250. "During the peak, we saw up to 894 patients, but now the number of cases has dropped. With a better idea of the treatment protocol, many patients are being treated at home," she said.
Jumbo COVID Centre at Mahalaxmi Race Course. File pic/Ashish Raje
Dr Andrade said while 60 doctors have been discontinued, the good ones have been waitlisted. "We have to maintain a ratio based on the number of new admissions. We need to use the manpower more efficiently and conserve on products and air conditioning when beds are empty. Whenever there is a requirement for more, we will rehire them," she said.
Additionally, nearly 25 nurses have also been discontinued and another 25 will be let go once their term ends. The centre will now have 69 doctors in the ward and 57 doctors in the ICU. Dr Andrade said while around 150 patients were admitted daily before, the daily average now has dropped to 15-20 new admissions.
'Will watch for 2 weeks'
At SevenHills Hospital, around half of the beds in the general ward, and 210 of the 250 beds in the ICU are occupied. Seven Hills Hospital Dean Dr Balkrishna Adsul said they are retaining their staff. "We have a comparatively lower workload now and we are not recruiting fresh doctors. We will see for the next couple of weeks and then decide," he said.
Members of the COVID task force have anticipated the second wave of infections will hit the city between January and February. Some members, however, feel that the second wave will affect the rural parts more this time. In CCC1 facilities in the city, out of over 13,000 active beds, only around 360 are occupied, while in CCC2 centres, 540 of the 3,200 beds are occupied.
Percentage of staff at BKC COVID facility being discontinued
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