After a 12-year long wait, within months of the Covid-19 pandemic, the requirements of the city forced the administration to upgrade the much-needed facility. (Rahul Raut/HT PHOTO)
After a 12-year long wait, within months of the Covid-19 pandemic, the requirements of the city forced the administration to upgrade the much-needed facility. (Rahul Raut/HT PHOTO)

0-30 in no time: ventilators, that is... How Pune civic hospital infra revved up

Naidu hospital was the first-response hospital against Covid-19, but had to depend on Sassoon hospital for the treatment of critical Covid-19 patients, as it did not have a critical care unit
By Steffy Thevar
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 04:37 PM IST

When Pune reported its first Covid case in Maharashtra on March 9, 2020, all it had was the Naidu hospital equipped to deal with the pandemic-infected.

As numbers started growing the administration took necessary measures to control the spread.

At the same time, the civic body also realised the importance of critical care for a city the size of Pune.

Surprisingly until the pandemic hit, not one PMC-run hospital had a single ventilator.

This caused the civic body to go on a spree investing in ICU facilities centralised oxygen tanks at its hospitals.

In just a few months, the city’s government hospitals had 30 ventilators, all courtesy CSR donations or via the PM Cares fund.

The pandemic forced the civic body to ramp up its health infrastructure in record time.

Before the Covid-19 outbreak, the city’s only infection- control hospital Naidu hospital, also one of its kind in the state, did not have a ventilator.

Naidu hospital was the first-response hospital against Covid-19, but had to depend on Sassoon hospital for the treatment of critical Covid-19 patients, as it did not have a critical care unit.

Dr Sudhir Patsute, medical superintendent, Dr Naidu Infectious Disease Hospital, Pune, said, “The challenge was not in upgrading the facilities, which happened immediately as an when required. The major challenge was crowd and staff management. During such an extraordinary situation there is always a staff crunch; staff is infected, they are exhausted working continuously for days, and then there is a shortage of experts.”

“However, Naidu hospital had an advantage, as we handled the H1N1 pandemic. The lessons we learnt during that period helped me and the staff to cope with the challenge. We also treated the first patient using the training we were imparted back in November 2019, when the pandemic had not yet broken out in the state,” Dr Patsute added.

The civic body also constructed the Baner hospital with 312 beds for critical care, including 270 oxygenated beds, 26 ICU beds and 16 ventilators. The hospital is currently dedicated for Covid-19 patients, but will eventually be opened for other ailments once the pandemic comes to an end.

The Baner hospital was completely built on CSR funds and the hospital was “gifted” to the city to meet the pandemic needs, which will, in future, cater to the non-Covid-19 needs of the city.

A senior health official said, “Prior to the pandemic, the PMC had only one ventilator at the Kamala Nehru hospital for the NICU unit. We had no ICU units, ventilators or even central oxygenated systems at any of our hospitals. Due to the pandemic we got 30 ventilators, all of which were either allocated to us through the PM Cares funds or through CSR. These ventilators have been temporarily shifted for non-Covid-19 use, but can be re-allocated if needed. However, we have those with us now. In addition to this the ventilators at the COEP Jumbo facility will be allocated to PMC, PCMC and Pune rural outlets, so we will get those extra ventilators too.”

The official also added that Naidu hospital now has 20 ICU beds, and Dalvi hospital has 10 ICU beds.

“In terms of oxygenated beds, we built central oxygen tanks at four of our hospitals, namely Dlavi hospital, PMC’s Bopodi hospital, Laygude Hospital and Naidu hospital,” the official added.

Sassoon upgrade

Sassoon General Hospitals, the oldest government hospital, also saw a major upgrade, first proposed following the 2009 Swine flu pandemic in the city.

Finally, after a 12-year long wait, within months of the Covid-19 pandemic, the requirements of the city forced the administration to upgrade the much-needed facility.

Sassoon is the oldest government hospital in the district and also caters to the needs of the neighbouring districts, including Satara, Ahmednagar, Solapur and Kolhapur. The new building added 100 rooms, 50 with attached bathrooms and toilets, while the remaining 50 with common bathroom and toilets. The extended portion will be a state-of-the-art hospital with organ transplant units. The new building will also have departments of TB, skin care, orthopaedics, ophthalmology and ENT.

The entire project cost is 250 crore and was put in to action only to meet the emergency needs of the district.

Data collection

The pandemic also helped the civic body collect a huge database, which it did not have prior to Covid-19, regarding the comorbid population in the city.

The database, which was undertaken following the state government’s directives under the ‘My family, My responsibility’ initiative. The door-to-door survey registered the number of comorbid people who may be suffering from the most common ailments, including diabetes and hypertension. The survey also classified the population as per the health requirements by registering the most vulnerable population, as per age.

It was found that Pune city has 12 lakh people who are “high risk”, which includes those above 50-years of age and those below 50-years of age, but with associated comorbidities. The same data will now help the city prioritise its most vulnerable population that needs to be vaccinated against Covid-19 first. This database, if regularly updated, can also help in developing the city’s healthcare infrastructure.

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