Temple trust braces for third wave; to set up 60-bed paediatric Covid hospital
The Mahavir Vatsalya Aspatal, managed by the Mahavir temple trust, will set up a 60-bed dedicated paediatric Covid-19 hospital on its premises next month to cope with the challenge posed by a possible third wave of coronavirus that could target children.
The trust’s initiative comes before Bihar health minister Mangal Pandey tweeted on Friday that arrangements at neonatal ICU, paediatric ICU and special newborn care units of government medical college hospitals and district hospitals were being improved in anticipation of the third wave affecting children.
The Mahavir Vatsalya Aspatal has found support from a Chennai-based NGO, One More Breath, which has offered assistance.
The support was routed through top government functionaries, who said the resources could be best utilised by the trust, which already runs five hospitals — the Mahavir Cancer Sansthan, Mahavir Arogya, Mahavir Vatsalya, Mahavir Heart Hospital, Mahavir Eye Hospital and the Mahavir Agrasen Sewa Samiti, a child and maternity hospital in Begusarai.
“The NGO has committed to provide us hospital beds and equipment like nebuliser, infusion pump, suction pump, Bipap machine, oxygen concentrators, etc.,” said Kishore Kunal, secretary of the Mahavir Temple Trust.
“We are arranging ventilator support on 35-40 beds besides providing other allied items to set up the requisite infrastructure by next month,” he said.
“We are installing a separate elevator on the back side of our existing hospital building to access the second floor, exclusively for paediatric Covid-19 patients,” Kunal said.
The ₹2 crore 60-bed dedicated paediatric Covid-19 hospital project was in addition to the existing 70 non-Covid bed hospital, including a 40-bed neonatal ICU.
Philanthropy in Covid times amid dwindling earning
The trust, which manages the over 300-year-old iconic Mahavir temple in Patna, is not untouched by the pandemic. Its annual earning through donations has taken a severe hit due to the temple’s closure during the lockdown.
“Our average annual earning through the temple is ₹20 crore (approx.), which we primarily use to support our five not-for-profit hospitals. Our earnings were almost nil during the pandemic. We have been compelled to take a bank loan of ₹4 crore against our fixed deposit, the first time in the last decade,” said Kunal.
The financial crunch during the pandemic notwithstanding, the Mahavir temple trust has gone ahead with its philanthropic activities.
It has been supplying free medical oxygen cylinders to those infected by coronavirus and under home isolation. It also provides refilling facility of small oxygen cylinders free of cost.
The initiative was launched last month during the peak of oxygen crisis that lasted almost a fortnight in Patna, claiming precious lives, forcing the Patna High Court to take cognizance.
At a time when the 91 hospitals empanelled by the government in Patna to treat Covid-19 cases put up house-full boards, the trust opened its doors to cure Covid-19 patients at its Mahavir Arogya Sansthan.
It earmarked 40 beds for Covid-19 patients and extended treatment at rates fixed by the government, when many other private health facilities took it as an opportunity to mint money, charging arbitrary rates from patients.
The Patna district administration has already issued show-cause notices to 12 of the 31 private health facilities presently under its scanner.
“We have registered FIRs against four private health facilities for overcharging patients and got five other hospitals to refund excess payment to relatives of patients. Inquiries are on in several other similar complaints,” said Richie Pandey, Patna’s deputy development commissioner, also the senior nodal officer, treatment cell of Covid-19, constituted by district magistrate Chandrashekhar Singh.
The trust had donated ₹1 crore to the Bihar Chief Minister Relief Fund in March last year as soon as the first case of Covid-19 was reported in the state, said Kunal.
It also partnered with the government in inoculating people against Covid-19 free of cost between January and April 30, after which the government stopped free supply of vaccines and asked non-government facilities to approach vaccine firms directly for supplies. Ironically, government red tape has delayed its efforts to revive vaccination at its hospital.