As Delhi government has directed private hospitals and nursing homes to reserve 20 per cent of their total bed strength for coronavirus patients, doctors have warned that mixing Covid-19 patients in hospitals treating people with other ailments might lead to a further spread of the virus.
Strongly objecting to this order, the private hospitals and doctors will be writing to the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government to review its decision.
Yesterday, Kejriwal, while addressing a digital briefing had said, "Government and private hospitals in Delhi have 4,500 beds for Covid-19 patients and out of these, only 2,000 are occupied.” He added that around 2,000 new beds have already been added in 117 private hospitals for Covid-19 patients.
Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Sunday had said the Delhi government has directed private hospitals and nursing homes with a capacity of 50 beds or more to reserve 20 per cent of their total bed strength for coronavirus patients.
Reacting on government’s directive, Dr Girish Tyagi, president of Delhi Medical Association, said that the bigger challenge would be for the small hospitals as they do not have enough space, handling both Covid-19 and non-Covid patients at the same time would become difficult and risky to all.
“The bigger hospitals that have several blocks can manage to dedicate these beds. However, the challenge will be for smaller ones as they might not have enough space or separate entry and exits to ensure Covid-19 and non-Covid patients are segregated properly. This might lead to a spread of the infection within the hospitals,” Hindustan Times quoted Dr Tyagi as saying.
Citing the examples of Italy and Spain, the countries which handled both Covid-19 and non-Covid patients together, Dr PK Bharadwaj, secretary, Delhi Voluntary Hospitals forum, an association of large private hospitals, said, “We should learn from the experiences of other countries. In countries such as Italy and Spain, treating Covid-19 patients alongside non-Covid patients add to several hospitals becoming transmission hot spots.”
Earlier, the Delhi government had decided to designate only independent hospitals or those with separate blocks for the treatment of coronavirus patients such as one block in Max Smart Super Specialty hospital or the two independent hospitals under Sir Gangaram -- Kolmet and City.
In order to avoid mixing of Covid-19 and non-Covid patients, the Kejriwal government had earlier decided to use two of its hospitals – the 2000-bed Lok Nayak and 500-bed Rajiv Gandhi Superspecialty hospital – in its entirety days later.
At All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), people with Covid are being treated at the Trauma Centre on Ring Road and the Cancer centre in Jhajjar, which are completely isolated from the main campus where non-Covid patients are being treated in the emergency department, Hindustan Times reported.
At Safdarjung, a separate Superspecialty block and in Ram Manohar Lohia, a separate Trauma block are being used for treating coronavirus patients.
“If the government needs to take over beds in the private sector, instead of getting 2,000 beds in over hundred hospitals, they can take over a few of the bigger hospitals,” said Dr Bharadwaj.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Medical Association will also be writing to the government to extend the health insurance for health care workers in the government sector to the private sector, ensure availability of PPE kits, masks, sanitisers, and respirators at government rates, and create a separate facility for treating health care workers with Covid-19.