New Delhi: The Delhi government has a dedicated website meant to reflect real-time updates on hospital beds and ventilators available across the national capital, so patients and their families don’t have to run from pillar to post for hospital admissions. But relying on it could prove to be not a wise decision for the people of Delhi.
The situation of hospital beds availability on the ground is quite different from what is seen on the Delhi government’s website, coronabeds.jantasamvad.org/beds.
At 3 pm Monday, the website showed 1,755 beds were available in 46 hospitals in the city, including beds with oxygen and ventilator supports and non-oxygen beds. However, when ThePrint called these hospitals to confirm, the calls either went unanswered or the numbers were busy or found to be out of service. Only 12 calls were answered, and just one of them agreed that they had vacant beds, but only for children.
The website reflects data related to both government and private Covid treatment facilities in the city, and also provides contact information for each of the hospitals. With cases surging across the capital, patients are having to wait outside hospitals for hours for beds. The website aims to relieve patients and their families of this harassment.
Just last week, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had directed officials to ensure that real-time information on bed availability is provided on the website. On Monday, the Delhi High Court asked the Kejriwal government to ensure that hospitals display bed and ventilator availability via digital boards.
However, the hospitals that ThePrint spoke to cited high volume of cases, human resources shortage, and oxygen shortage as reasons for the discrepancy in bed availability data.
ThePrint reached Director General Health Services Dr Nutan Mundeja over the phone and email, but no response was received till the time of publication of this report.
According to the Delhi government health bulletin, as of 25 April, Delhi has recorded a total of 10,27,715 cases with 14,248 deaths and 9,18,875 recoveries.
In the past two weeks, Delhi has seen daily new cases rise from just 7,897 on 11 April to 22,933 on 25 April. The number of new cases had touched an all-time high of 28,395 on 20 April.
Hospitals out of reach
Of the 46 hospitals contacted by ThePrint — all hospitals that had showed available beds on the Delhi government website — the contact numbers of nine were busy. These were Base Hospital Army Camp, Guru Nanak Eye Centre, HAHC Hospital (Hamdard Nagar), Venkateshwara Hospital, Pushpawati Singhania Hospital, Moolchand Khairati Ram Hospital, Vikas Hospital, Kalra Hospital (Dwarka) and Satya Multispeciality Hospital.
As many as 14 calls went unanswered. The hospitals that did not answer ThePrint’s calls were Max Smart Gujarmal Modi hospital (Saket); Maharaja Agrasen Hospital (Punjabi Bagh), Max East/West Block (Saket), Jaipur Golden Hospital (Rohini), Metro Hospital (Preet Vihar), Park Hospital (Meera Bagh), Jeevan Anmol Hospital (Mayur Vihar Phase-I), Konark Hospital (Nangloi), Bensups Hospital (Dwarka), Surya Kiran Hospital, Tulsi Multispeciality Hospital & Critical Care Unit, SMS Hospital (Gagan Vihar), Dr. Chaudhary Moral Hospital (Yamuna Vihar) and Jeewan Moti Khera Hospital (Nangloi).
The contact numbers of six hospitals were either out of service or invalid, or the calls could not be connected at all. These were Sardar Patel Covid Army hospital, Lady Hardinge Medical College, AIIMS Delhi, Kalra Hospital (Kirti Nagar), Dharamshila Narayana Hospital (Vasundhra Enclave) and Tirath Ram Shah Charitable Hospital (Civil Lines).
The phone numbers for five hospitals were switched off — Max SS Hospital (Patparganj); Mansaram Hospital (Nangloi), Ardent Ganpati, K K Surgical & Maternity Centre, Khandelwal Hospital And Urology Center.
Only 12 hospitals answered ThePrint’s calls — between 3 pm and 5 pm Saturday. These included BLK Hospital (Pusa Road), St Stephens Hospital, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, Kukreja Hospital and Heart Centre, Saroj Super Speciality Hospital, Sir Ganga Ram City Hospital, Sant Parmanand Hospital, Madhukar Rainbow Children Hospital, Medeor Hospital, PGH Hospital, CD Global Hospital and Bimla Devi Hospital.
Beds available on website, but not for admission
Of the 12 hospitals that answered ThePrint’s calls, six simply said beds weren’t available, despite the website saying otherwise.
Three hospitals, including Ganga Ram, Saroj Superspeciality and Jaipur Golden Hospital, said beds were available, but they were not admitting any new patients due to shortage of oxygen supply.
Two hospitals — Kukreja Hospital and Heart Centre and Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute — said the beds that are being shown as available on the website were actually in hotels attached to the hospitals, and were only meant for those who needed to be quarantined.
Balaji Action also said there is a waiting list for beds at the hospital and offered to call back in 24 hours, if a bed became vacant. BLK Hospital (Pusa Road) said the available beds were only for patients who had been discharged, since their oxygen levels were now stable but still needed to be quarantined.
Only one hospital, Madhukar Rainbow Children Hospital, said beds were available, but these were only for children.
‘Oxygen uncertainty, manpower shortage’
Doctors helming affairs at these hospitals told ThePrint that the discrepancy in website data and the actual scenario was owing to limited oxygen supply at hospitals.
“We have beds, but we are not sure how long our oxygen supply will last. That is why we have decided to focus on patients who are already admitted and ensure they get oxygen,” said Dr Dhiraj Malik, medical superintendent, Saroj Super Speciality Hospital.
Even when there was no immediate shortage of oxygen, hospitals are reluctant to take in more patients, because they are unsure how long the available supply will match the requirement. And most patients seeking admission now require oxygen support.
“80-90 per cent of patients coming to the hospital now require oxygen. So even if we have beds, these are without oxygen support. This is not owing to an oxygen shortage, but more from uncertainty about whether the oxygen that we have will be enough or not. Supply is not matching the increased demand, which is why we are unsure of admitting new patients,” explained Dr D.K. Baluja, medical director, Jaipur Golden Hospital.
Doctors also said it was difficult for them to update real-time data on the website owing to the increased pressure on hospitals and resulting manpower crunch.
“There is a shortage of manpower. This data needs to be updated every hour, but where is the manpower,” asked a senior official at Moolchand Hospital, who did not wish to be named. “It’s elaborate data, including [break-up of] oxygen beds, non-oxygen beds, ICU and ventilators. We are all busy trying to ensure oxygen supply for our patients, so data doesn’t get updated. We understand that the Delhi government also wants updated data, but we are also under immense pressure. There’s a shortage of everything from beds, to oxygen to manpower. What do we do?”
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)