These include Apollo, Max, Fortis and BLK. Taken together, these hospitals had 1,441 Covid-19 beds on Tuesday. The order, a copy of which is with TOI,will increase this to 3,456, an addition of 2,015 beds. Each hospital has been assigned a figure. This might bring relief to patients with severe symptoms of Covid-19 who need admission.
In the past one week, there have been multiple instances of denial of admission to needy patients due to unavailability of beds, particularly at the top private hospitals.
Delhi government had recently come out with an app – Delhi Corona App – to provide real-time information on availability of beds. When TOI did a random check on Tuesday, it found that biggest private hospitals had no or very few beds available. Max Shalimar Bagh, which has reserved 56 Covid-19 beds, had none available. Similarly, Fortis Shalimar Bagh with 52 Covid-19 beds didn’t have any available.
Apollo has 133 beds but only one was vacant. Max Shalimar Bagh and Fortis Shalimar Bagh have now been ordered to reserve 156 and 100 beds for Covid-19 patients, respectively, while Apollo has been asked to reserve 300 beds. Other hospitals too have been given similar targets. “The MS (medical superintendents) of these hospitals are directed to admit Covid-19 patients as per the revised allocation of beds and update the data on Delhi Corona app with immediate effect,” the government has ordered.
Delhi had a total of 8,975 beds for Covid-19 patients as on Tuesday, which will now go up to 10,990. However, the question is why people are struggling to find beds when the Delhi Corona app shows nearly half the beds are vacant? While Covid-19 cases are constantly on the rise, the number of beds available, going by the Corona Delhi app, was 4,185 out of 8,826 till 3 pm and 4,137 out of 8,875 by 8 pm on Tuesday.
The maximum of 67% beds were vacant in hospitals run by the state government followed by 31% in private hospitals and 175 in the ones run by the Centre. “There is a misconception among people that govern ment hospitals aren’t good enough. That’s why everyone wants to get admitted in private hospitals even if it costs them a lot,” said Dr S K Sarin, director of Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS).
Lok Nayak Hospital, the biggest hospital run by the Delhi government, has 2,000 Covid-19 beds. Of this, government data shows, 891 (45%) are occupied. At Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital, also run by the state, 46% of the Covid-19 beds were vacant on Tuesday. “We aren’t denying admission to anyone. But the fact is we have a serious shortage of staff. If we have to operate at full strength, which is 500 Covid-19 beds, we will require more manpower,” said a doctor.
Even among private hospitals, the rush is limited mostly to the super-specialty hospitals and the smaller ones continue to have vacant beds, said another doctor. “Delhi government has made arrangements for beds for the seriously ill and directed hospitals to prioritise such patient. However, patients want admission at the earliest, leading to a crisis situation,” said the doctor.
He added that in many cases, patients have died because the symptoms deteriorated fast and they couldn’t get admission. Among government hospitals, RML and Safdarjung are the most sought after and, according to the app, both had two and seven beds, respectively, till 8pm on Tuesday. Though the government has appointed nodal officers at the private hospitals to facilitate admission, there are no contacts available for prior confirmation.