Mumbai: Facing flak for critical Covid-19 patients having to run from one hospital to another in search of beds, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to set up ‘war rooms’ at the level of administrative wards to decentralise the allocation of beds.
These administrative ward-level centres, with their own helpline numbers, will be responsible for everything from finding out the symptoms of Covid-positive patients in their area, conducting medical tests, arranging for ambulances and getting them beds in the BMC’s Covid care facilities, and for critical patients, in hospitals. Mumbai has 24 administrative wards.
Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Chahal told reporters: “As of now, the BMC is using the network of its disaster control helpline number 1916 for primary management of beds. But, as the number of Covid patients has multiplied, so have the facilities to take care of them.
“So, instead of managing hospital beds in a centralised manner, we have undertaken this initiative to allot them beds at the (administrative) ward level itself to ensure it’s more speedy and efficient.”
Mumbai has recorded 48,774 Covid-19 cases as of Sunday, which is 60 per cent of the cases in Maharashtra, of which 25,940 cases are still active.
Centralised helpline not adequate
Currently, patients have to dial the city’s disaster control helpline, 1916, which has real-time data on vacant and occupied beds. Officials manning the helpline direct patients to hospitals. But the process doesn’t seem to be working seamlessly.
As the crisis deepens, the waiting time on the main helpline, which gets non-Covid relates calls too, has increased.
According to data accurate up to 5 June, Mumbai had a total of 9,292 Covid beds for the critical as well less severe cases, including those at private hospitals. Of these, 94 per cent are occupied.
The current ICU bed capacity for Covid patients available with the BMC across the main hospitals, field hospitals and private hospitals is 1,100, of which 98 per cent are occupied. Also, 93 per cent of the 457 ventilators available are currently in use.
More facilities are available for mildly symptomatic and asymptomatic patients, as well as for the quarantine of high-risk contacts. The BMC is aggressively augmenting its bed capacity and more beds are being commissioned each day.
Ward war rooms
Every ‘ward war room’ will have a helpline number that will be well advertised through the media and social media, and will have 30 lines each. These war rooms, which will function 24×7 in three shifts, will each have a medical officer.
“Every day, after getting a list of Covid-positive patients, the doctor at every ward level will contact these patients, explain the nature of the disease to them, and the precautions that they need to take, understand their symptoms and be responsible for getting them a bed in the BMC’s Covid care facilities, or for critical patients, in the hospital,” a BMC official said.
Instead of just civic officials with technical knowledge, medical officers themselves will be speaking to patients. “They can ask the right questions to know the exact medical condition, give proper advice on treatment, as well as bed allocation,” the official added.
For critical patients, doctors will immediately go to their residences, conduct a medical check-up, and give advice accordingly.
The medical officers have also been instructed to keep in touch with the mildly symptomatic and asymptomatic patients over the phone for a few days after getting their Covid test reports.
Also, from here on, for high-risk asymptomatic persons, the BMC has decided to directly conduct tests at private or municipal labs without requiring a doctor’s prescription.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.