As admissions dip, some Mumbai hospitals want to be fully ‘non-Covid’ facilities again
In a joint meeting of private hospitals in Mumbai held last week, though it was decided to reduce the beds meant for Covid-19 patients, the authorities agreed to have a system wherein the entire bed strength can be activated if the cases witness a sudden surge
With Covid-19 cases on a steep decline, some hospitals in Mumbai were hopeful of going back to being fully non-Covid facilities. However, in a joint meeting of private hospitals held last week, though it was decided to reduce the beds meant for Covid-19 patients, the authorities agreed to have a system wherein the entire bed strength can be activated if the cases witness a sudden surge.
“A few hospitals were keen on removing the Covid-19 beds completely and convert into fully non-Covid facilities. But it was jointly decided that we simply reduce the bed strength and utilise them for non-Covid patients, if needed. However, the conversion [into a non-Covid facility] should be in such a way that the beds can be reverted for Covid-19, if a surge happens,” said Dr Gautam Bhansali, chief coordinator for private hospitals and the civic body.
Dr Bhansali cited an example of Bombay Hospital, where he practices. The hospital had 122 Covid-19 beds, of which only 20 have been kept functional now.
“The remaining beds can be activated as soon as the demand arises,” he said.
“A majority of the public hospitals have now fully resumed non-Covid work. It is only logical to allow all private hospitals to utilise their bed strength for non-Covid patients,” said Dr Deepak Baid, former president of the Association of Medical Consultants.
The civic-run Rajawadi Hospital has reduced its Covid-19 wards from four to one. Other public hospitals have also started using most of their bed strength for non-Covid patients. Of the 15,582 Covid beds in the city, 14,326 were vacant on Friday, according to the civic body dashboard.
Mumbai’s daily Covid-19 cases now hover between 200 and 300. The hospital admissions have drastically come down too. “But we have to exercise caution as many other countries are already seeing a spurt. We may also see a similar rise in cases after December,” said Dr Bhansali.
Members of Maharashtra’s Covid-19 task force have also said that a third wave is likely between December and January.
In May 2020, the Maharashtra government had invoked five laws to cap the prices of private hospitals owing to the pandemic. The state further extended the cap during the second wave as well. Currently, Mumbai has the 80:20 rule, wherein 80% of Covid-19 patients have to be charged as per the state’s capped prices, while 20% can be charged according to the private rates. “With hardly any admissions, the hospitals are leaving the patients to choose whether they wish to opt for state rates or go for upgraded rooms at private rates. But not all are aware about such a price cap,” said a doctor.