Covid-19: Are private hospitals in Mumbai ready to give shots 24x7?
Following a meeting between officials from the Central government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday, private vaccination centres have been authorised to carry out immunisation round the clock. At present, vaccinations are administered till 5pm. Representatives of private hospitals said that 24x7 centres are not mandatory and the decision to offer inoculation after 5pm will be based on public response.
Last week, the state’s Covid-19 task force along with the Association of Hospitals (AOH), a trust of private hospitals, had submitted a proposal to BMC to start 24x7 vaccination centres. It will take two to three days for all private hospitals to decide on extending their existing timings, as they study the public response.
Dr V Ravishankar, chief operating officer (COO) of Lilavati Hospital in Bandra, welcomed the decision and said the hospital would extend the time for vaccination till 8pm. “We have seven vaccination units ready for the mass immunisation process. Four units are already running. If needed, we can open up the remaining three units. But it depends on public response. We do not want to waste our resources and manpower by keeping it open 24x7,” said Dr Ravishankar.
Hiranandani Hospital also plans to carry out vaccination for 12 hours from today onwards. The hospital has also sought assistance from Rotary Club in Powai. “Our hospital, being a mid-size hospital, is exploring how to conduct this exercise at night. We are going to divide the hospital task force into two batches, comprising a mix of doctors, nurses, front office staff, technicians, IT staff and security — one for the morning shift and the other for the afternoon. Management staff will do crowd management and hospitality,” said Dr Sujit Chatterjee, chief executive officer (CEO) of the hospital.
While some have pointed out that the number of probable beneficiaries is likely to fall after 8pm, Dr Gautam Bhansali, consultant physician at Bombay Hospital in Marine Lines, said most major private hospitals have over 2,000 healthcare workers who work in three shifts, including at night. “All hospitals have nurses on night duty who are qualified to vaccinate the public. So there won’t be much problem in arranging vaccinators. We can easily station two to three nurses at vaccination units,” he said.
However, some medical practitioners questioned whether running vaccination programmes for all 24 hours in a day would be feasible. “In comparison to January 16 [the first day of the nationwide mass vaccination programme], the turnout has increased by over 100%. So there is a need to extend the timing of inoculation. This will be beneficial for working professionals who are struggling to get their parents to vaccination centres. But making it 24x7 won’t be helpful,” said an officer from a private hospital.