Pvt hospitals upset over Delhi's order to reserve 20% beds for Covid patients

New Delhi: Delhi government’s directive to private hospitals to reserve 20% of the beds for Covid-19 patients has raised concerns over cohorting of patients and increasing the pandemic spread in the city. With the number of cases increasing in the capital, the government had stepped in on Sunday asking 117 private hospitals and clinics with a capacity of over 50 beds to reserve 20% beds for Covid-19 patients. So far, Delhi had dedicated Covid hospitals to avoid cohorting of infected patients with non-Covid patients.

“It does not make sense to have Covid and non-Covid patients in the same hospital,” a senior official at a private hospital told ET on condition of anonymity. “Hospitals may have separate entries and completely separate wings for Covid patients but there is a high risk of infections as we have common AC ducts. How do you separate radiology department, billing area or parking?”

Delhi government on Monday said around 2,000 new beds have been added in 117 private hospitals and 2,500 beds are already available in government hospitals. The model follows what Maharashtra had done asking all private hospitals to earmark 80% of beds available. The private hospitals, however, feel that the best model for the government is to take over private hospitals and turn them into dedicated Covid facilities. “Cohorting patients has always spelt problems in other countries. In Italy and Spain, the spike in Covid numbers was also because of cohorting patients,” said an official at another private healthcare facility in Delhi, who did not wish to be identified.

Many states, including Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, have taken over private hospitals as cases in certain districts increased. In Bhilwara district of Rajasthan, which had seen a spike in cases in April, the district magistrate had taken over the private hospitals in the area for better Covid management. These hospitals were converted into dedicated Covid hospitals.

“The problem in earmarking beds in a fully operational hospital is that if a person with symptoms comes to the hospital, he is tested and put in an ‘observational chamber’,” said a senior internal medicine expert. “Usually, we have four beds in such a facility but now with social distancing measures, we have two. If I put two patients there and one turns out positive and another negative, I would be looking at a potentially dangerous situation as I have risked the other patient’s life.”


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