There are no beds left to treat Covid-19 patients in several private hospitals in Kolkata while in others the number of beds is fast drying up as the city has witnessed a sharp spike in Covid-19 positive cases.
The number of active cases in Kolkata has doubled in the last fortnight. While on June 29 the city had 1,772 active cases, on Sunday the number was 3,568. The state has 10,500 active cases at present.
While the state-government has prepared 10,862 beds in 80 Covid-19 designated hospitals across the state, in Kolkata there are 2,062 beds in seven state-run hospitals and hospitals that the government has designated as Covid-19 hospitals.
In addition to this there are 1,414 beds in 32 private hospitals in Kolkata, including some of the city’s best known super-specialty hospitals, where Covid-19 patients are being treated. In North 24 Parganas and in the satellite towns of New Town and Salt Lake there are a few other private hospitals with around 336 beds.
According to figures released by the government, in at least 13 of these 32 hospitals in the city there are no beds vacant as on date. In the rest, only around 218 beds were vacant as reported by the respective hospitals.
“Government hospitals have more than 10,000 beds for Covid-19 patents across the state. Compared to this the private hospitals are limited and have less than 2,000 beds. Hence they are drying up fast. We still have a huge vacancy in government hospitals and the number of beds is also being increased,” said a top official of the state health department.
In government hospitals 70% of the beds are vacant, while less than 20% of the private hospitals’ beds are vacant.
“Most of the people living in cities like Kolkata and urban areas are more inclined towards private health care facilities even though the state-run hospitals in Bengal offer the best treatment at lower cost,” said an expert associated with the global advisory body that has been set up to advise the Mamata Banerjee administration.
To cope up with the health crisis, many top private hospitals in the city have launched ‘home care packages’ for Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms undergoing treatment at home.
“We have three packages ranging from Rs 4,500 to Rs 16,000. This includes tele-consultation, tool-kit comprising masks, PPE, gloves, pulse oximeter and vaporizer among others which are home delivered and emergency services such as free ambulance pick up. But the patient must be less than 58-years of age, must have mild symptoms and should not have diseases such as diabetes and asthma,” said a senior doctor of a hospital in south Kolkata.
In June, the government had tied up with some private hospitals in Kolkata to start Satellite Health Facilities (SHFs), a variant of observation wards in healthcare units’ vicinity, where coronavirus disease (Covid-19) patients with mild or no symptoms could be treated, while setting aside beds in the dedicated hospitals for critically-ill patients.
Earlier, the state had come up with 106 “safe home centres” in Kolkata with a capacity of over 6,000 beds, where mild and asymptomatic patients could be treated.
“Both these arrangements – SHFs and SHCs – were launched for the first time in India in a bid to keep hospital beds free for critically ill Covid-19 patients amid a daily spike in the number of positive cases,” a senior official said.