A resident being administered the Covid-19 vaccine at a dispensary in Sector 8, Chandigarh, on Monday. (KESHAV SINGH/HT)
A resident being administered the Covid-19 vaccine at a dispensary in Sector 8, Chandigarh, on Monday. (KESHAV SINGH/HT)

Covid surge: Hospitals stretched to the limit in Chandigarh

PGIMER has only been able to push the capacity of ICUs from 45 last year to 72, while GMCH-32 has been able to add 24 more beds to the 49-bed facility
By Amanjeet Singh Salyal, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON APR 27, 2021 01:01 AM IST

The UT hospitals are scrambling to push the health infrastructure to cope with the increasing number of Covid-19 patients, especially those who require treatment in the intensive care units.

The three Covid-19 dedicated hospitals have been able to add ICU beds in limited numbers, which may not be able to cater to the impending crisis especially when the influx of patients from neighbouring states, including the crisis-hit national capital of New Delhi, is increasing.

Out of 126 ICU ventilator beds earmarked for Covid-19, only 19 remained vacant on Monday evening.

The Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) has only been able to push the capacity of ICUs from 45 last year to 72 till Monday evening, while the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) in Sector 32 has been able to add 24 more ICU beds to the 49-bed ICU facility.

“We have been stretched to our upper limit. If we increase more beds and divert more resources to Covid management, our non-Covid resources will be affected harshly,” said Jagat Ram, the director of PGIMER.

“We have diverted the ICUs from non-Covid areas for the management of Covid-19 patients. Managing ICUs is a major task as it requires dedicated workforce because of direct supervision. It requires round the clock availability of doctors and nurses to cater to one or two patients who are in ICU. So there is a limit to which we can go up,” Dr Ashok Kumar, official spokesperson of the institute said.

Similarly, at Government Multi-Speciality Hospital, Sector 16, all six ICU beds which were installed in pre-Covid times have been earmarked for positive patients now with no additional infrastructure being created on this front in the pandemic.

‘OTs being turned into ICUs’

The medical superintendent of Nehru Hospital Extension, Dr Vipin Koushal, said that creating ICUs required at least 160 square feet space and that they had even turned operation theatres to accommodate more beds.

Covid surge: Hospitals stretched to the limit in Chandigarh
Covid surge: Hospitals stretched to the limit in Chandigarh

Yashpaul Garg, CEO, Chandigarh Housing Board, and in-charge of Covid-19 management at GMCH-32 said they had started hiring more staff including doctors and nurses on an urgent basis to deal with the crisis.

UT health secretary Arun Gupta said that every resource available was being utilised for creating more infrastructure: “Oxygen beds are available in good numbers, but there is a limit to creating critical care beds as it requires more workforce and resources.”

Social activist and president of Second Innings Association, RK Garg, said that the city needs more ICU beds immediately.

‘Professional bodies should set up Covid care centres’

The administration has requested retired doctors who want to volunteer at Covid care centres in Chandigarh to send an email and/or call the UT health secretary or the adviser.

Adviser Manoj Parida on Monday also called up professional organisations of chartered accountants, advocates and public sector undertakings to set up small Covid care centres across the city.

Parida said, “Our community centres are available. Some bhawans can be used. Philanthropists can fund a few of these, meant for the poor only.” The centres, with 10 or more beds, would be run under the supervision of health workers from private or government hospitals, Parida added.

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