The health department has also taken up a massive augmentation drive to add more HDU beds to cater to Covid patients across 20 hospitals in the state. While the overall bed occupancy in government Covid hospitals currently is just about 34%, the hospitals in Kolkata have 72% occupancy.
“And most of the vacant beds are general beds as patients nowadays prefer to stay at home unless they get moderate to severe symptoms. So, we had to convert a part of these general beds into HDU and ICU beds so that we can cater to more patients who come for hospital care,” said a senior health department official.
The city will have 175 more HDU beds across four hospitals — 52 at MR Bangur Hospital, 50 at KS Roy TB Hospital, 50 at CNCI Rajarhat and 23 at NRS Medical College and Hospital.
An HDU is a step-down unit of an ICU bed with facilities like oxygen support for a patient. Currently, most of the Covid patients are coming to hospital only when they feel breathlessness.
“HDU beds will come very handy in treating patients who need oxygen therapy,” said SSKM gastroenterology head GK Dhali. The doctor, who has been deployed as officer on special duty (OSD) to combat Covid by the health department, said he had pointed out and told doctors in few hospitals to regularly monitor these patients.
The OSD has also suggested to the health department that ESI Hospital Joka — a teaching hospital with 500 beds — be taken over as a dedicated Covid facility. The hospital has 100 ICU beds that could cater to patients not only from South 24 Parganas but also from parts of Kolkata.
“What we are observing nowadays is that only patients with co-morbid conditions and respiratory distress are coming to the hospital. We had anticipated a huge rush of patients after Durga Puja. Thankfully, that has not happened. But the demand for HDU and ICU beds is on the rise while many general beds are empty. Now, we are equipped with 50 more HDU beds in addition to our existing 50 critical care beds,” said an official at the 425-bedded CNCI.
Among the other hospitals close to the city, College of Medicine and Sagore Dutta Hospital in Karamhati will also get 25 more HDU beds. The 500-bedded Covid hospital currently has 18 critical care beds and 25 HDU beds.
North 24 Parganas is only second to Kolkata in terms of number of Covid-infected patients. Being the biggest Covid facility, currently it has an occupancy of 46%.