With the increasing number of COVID-19 patients in Bengaluru, the Health Department is looking at converting available hospital beds into oxygen beds and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds. However, Health Department officials said that putting the infrastructure in place in a short span of time is going to be a tough task as the number of patients requiring oxygen support is steadily increasing.
As for ICU beds, according to the Health Department, there are 289 ICU beds in Bengaluru of which 112 have already been occupied. This means that 38.75% of the beds are currently occupied in government hospitals. The Health Department on Wednesday issued a notification listing 20 private hospitals that will allocate 50% of their beds for patients with COVID-19. This will add an additional 281 ICU beds. However, an official with the BBMP war room for COVID-19 said that based on their projections, the number of active cases in the city by the end of July is likely to touch the 4,000 mark.
Speaking to TNM, Director of the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Omprakash Patil, said that ICU beds are getting occupied due to the increase in number of patients with Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) and Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) in Bengaluru.
As of 8 pm on Thursday, Bengaluru had 511 patients with ILI and 129 patients with SARI, of which 112 are admitted in the ICU. Just seven days ago, the number of ILI patients was just 171. With this increase, the Health Department is looking to scale up both oxygen and ICU beds.
“People with ILI and SARI have upper and lower respiratory tract infection. Since the novel coronavirus first attacks a person’s respiratory system, those patients who have SARI and ILI find it hard to breathe, which is why we are looking to increase the number of oxygen and ICU beds in Bengaluru,” Director Omprakash Patil added.
The Health Department is currently in the process of providing piped oxygen support in its taluk and district-level government hospitals. “But doing this work in Bengaluru, where the number of patients is increasing, is tough, because there are already many patients in ICUs and in isolation wards. This was why we decided to rope in private hospitals as well,” he added.
“The private hospitals will start taking in patients now that the notification is out. But they are not happy with the price cap. If push comes to shove, we will use powers under the Disaster Management Act to ensure that they provide care for patients with COVID-19. The number of ICU beds are going to be double of what we have currently once this comes through. The expert committee for COVID-19 is due to submit its report on Friday and based on that we will decide the next course of action,” a senior Health Department official said.
Speaking to TNM, a member of the expert committee for COVID-19 said that Chief Minister Yediyurappa has suggested that 2,000 beds be arranged for COVID-19 patients at Palace Grounds. “This way, we can convert beds in hospitals to ICU beds. The state government is also in the process of procuring more ventilators once the Centre gives approval,” he added.