In a month, Delhi increased ICU beds three-fold
The 115 private hospitals in the city that had Covid-19 wards accounted for 1,325 ICU beds, almost double the number in the 11 public hospitals.Updated: Jul 09, 2020 02:35 IST
The number of intensive care unit (ICU) beds in the city to treat coronavirus disease (Covid-19) patients have more than tripled in a month — from 582 on June 8 to 1,995 on Wednesday, government data showed.
The 115 private hospitals in the city that had Covid-19 wards accounted for 1,325 ICU beds, almost double the number in the 11 public hospitals. The public hospitals include five each under the Delhi government and central government and one under a municipal corporation. The numbers include ICU beds with and without ventilators.
As of Wednesday, there were 23,452 active cases of Covid-19 in the national capital, and 4,859 are in hospital.
Private Covid hospitals in the city also have a higher occupancy rate of ICU beds. As on Thursday, government data showed around 66% of such beds in private hospitals were occupied, as against 40% in public hospitals.
ICU beds with ventilators too have increased during the same period — from 507 to 955 — with almost 54% of them in public hospitals.
Senior Delhi government officials said ICU beds were ramped up after roping in more hospitals, as part of a health care infrastructure augmentation plan put in place after a spike in Covid-19 cases.
On June 19, Delhi deputy chief minister health minister Manish Sisodia, who also holds temporary charge of the health ministry, asked an advisory committee set up by the Delhi government to focus on ICU beds as the number of cases continued to grow. Since then, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has on multiple occasions stressed that Delhi needed more such beds. Covid-19 treatment rates in the city’s private hospitals were capped last month as well.
On Wednesday, Sisodia told HT, “Delhi has set an example in the fight against Covid-19. When the number of Covid cases was increasing in June, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal left no stone unturned to bring the Centre, municipal corporations, NGOs, volunteer doctors and all resources together to enhance the health infrastructure in Delhi. He directed the health department to immediately ramp up the number of ICU beds in government hospitals.”
“As a result, the ICUs at three main Delhi government hospitals Lok Nayak Hospital, Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital and Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital were not only scaled up to almost triple their capacity, but the services in terms of patient care provided in the government hospitals is also at par with the private hospitals. Today we are in a comfortable position to tackle any emergency situation,” he said.
Dr Jugal Kishore, head of the community medicines department in Safdarjung Hospital, said: “There was a shortage of ICU beds in Delhi before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the city. Now that the ICU capacity has been augmented, it should be permanent. They are needed to tackle day-to-day medical emergencies in Delhi other than potential waves of the pandemic in future.”
“The occupancy rate of ICU beds in private Covid hospitals is higher because of two reasons — first, they offer more beds in general and, second, there is a perception about quality of service among people. In terms of patient care, government hospitals in Delhi have witnessed significant changes in the last few years, but there is still large room for improvement,” he added.
The Delhi chief minister’s office on Wednesday also said the government planned to add 500 more ICU beds in Covid hospitals by the end of July.
Gagan D Bharti, manager of Charity Beds, a non-profit organisation that has been helping people in Delhi avail beds during the pandemic, said: “In the last one month, Delhi has seen some stability in terms of demand for hospitals beds for two reasons. First, the number of total beds and ICU beds have increased. Second, people have also become more aware that not all Covid cases need hospitalisation.”
“Delhi, however, needs a proportionately higher number of ICUs. It is because only severe Covid cases are landing in the hospitals and a large number of them would potentially need ICU. General beds’ availability would remain static even if there is a spike in cases again because most mild and moderate cases are isolated at home. In the last one month, 9 out of 10 people we helped with a hospital bed ultimately required ICU,” said Bharti.