The move follows an appeal from the hospital for permission to use the building to extend its Covid unit at Dhakuria that has remained full for several weeks, leading to large-scale patient refusal. Letters to seek the necessary clearance to resume operations at the building would soon be sent to the fire department, civic authorities and the power ministry, said AMRI. The hospital has 270 Covid beds across its three units at Salt Lake, Dhakuria and Mukundapur. “We welcome the approval from the government as it is a positive move. It will let us augment our Covid unit at Dhakuria. It would not have been possible without this facility. The building has been lying idle and now, we will be able to use it at a time when every additional bed counts. Our management has accepted the approval,” said AMRI Hospitals CEO Rupak Barua.
A senior health official said, “AMRI has been given permission to use its Annexe I building, provided it gets the necessary clearances from the fire department and KMC and sticks to all the safety norms. The building can only be used for Covid treatment.”
AMRI Dhakuria has three buildings, the old building, Annexe I and Annexe II. While annexe II is now a dedicated Covid unit, the old building, too, is being used to treat Covid patients.
The Annexe I building will have both a Covid ward with 150 beds and an ICU is likely to be added later. Steps would immediately be initiated to set up the infrastructure at the eight-storey building, said AMRI sources. Beds and equipment will be moved to the facility soon. “While we may not have an ICU at the building immediately, it will have a dialysis unit,” said Barua. The operations at Annexe I will begin with three floors, each likely to house 50 patients. But the floors that had OTs and kitchen will not be used.
AMRI was the first private hospital in Kolkata to dedicate an entire building—the annexe building at the Salt Lake unit—to Covid treatment in April. A fortnight before the Pujas, the state government had urged the private hospitals to augment Covid units, which led to an addition of around 250 beds across hospitals. “We have stretched our resources to the limit and run out of space for more beds. But this infrastructure and space were lying unused, which, we felt, could be utilized during the pandemic,” said Barua. AMRI is forced to refuse several patients every day.
Though Annexe I will not start off with an ICU, the facility could be added later. “We plan to move some general ward patients from the other two Dhakuria buildings to free up space for an ICU extension. If the demand for ICU beds persists, we may set up one at Annexe I,” said Barua. It could take time to complete the process of securing clearances, he added. “We don’t yet have an idea when we would be ready to flag off the building. The authorities concerned will have to survey the facility and check the conditions. As far as AMRI is concerned, we are ready with the basic facilities and will do whatever needs to be done to get the building in shape as soon as possible,” said Barua.