Around 25% of hospital beds in Mumbai are vacant but complaints about scarcity are rising. “Over 5,000 cases get added to Mumbai’s total Covid-19 tally every day, and only a few thousand beds (2,565 as per BMC’s dashboard) are vacant across the city’s public and private hospitals,” said a doctor from the suburbs.
BMC additional commissioner Suresh Kakani denied there was a“bed crisis”.
He said the problem is of disproportionate demand for certain facilities. “Most cases in the second wave are among people in high rises who talk about their insurance policies. They want a private bed. Many are specific that they want a single bed and not a twin-sharing arrangement. It is this demand that is skewing the bed availability,” said Kakani.
Only 652 of 3,269 beds in the city’s private hospitals are vacant. “We have asked private hospitals to increase bed capacity to 5,000 soon,” he added.
At Sunday’s meeting chaired by chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, bed availability wasa key discussion point during a debate on the need for a lockdown in the state. “In many districts, beds are not available, and (available) capacity of health facilities is not able to cope up with the spread of disease,” said health secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas.
In public health strategies, lockdowns are a pandemic-control tool used when the healthcare system is overwhelmed or inadequate.
Overall, the state has 3.57 lakh isolation beds of which 30% or 1.07 lakh are occupied. Of the 60,349 oxygen beds, 12,701 are occupied, and 1,881 of the 9,030 ventilators are in use right now.
A senior state official said beds are available in most districts except some places like Aurangabad and Pune.
In Raigad, for instance, 22% of ICU beds and 11% of the 3,444 regular beds are occupied, said district collector Nidhi Chaudhari.
“In many districts, asymptomatic patients have occupied hospital beds out of panic. We are asking district administrations to ensure better bed management and prioritise people who have symptoms and are also co-morbid,” said the official.
The Centre in a review meeting with high caseload states on Saturday had said some districts in the state were reporting higher deaths as people in home isolation were deteriorating and reporting late to hospitals and suggested the state isolate patients in CCCs rather than at home.