Sometime in April the country’s financial capital Mumbai begun to see a steady surge of Covid positive numbers, putting immense pressure on the health infrastructure. The city saw days where ICU and ventilator beds dedicated to Covid care showed 98 per cent occupancy and even oxygen beds were 93 per cent full.
As numbers kept rising and more people got critically ill after contracting the virus, a sense of panic loomed large as scarcity of beds left citizen in a helpless state. The BMC, city’s municipal corporation, kept working on strategies to control the situation, including the decision to ramp up health infrastructure in the lean period much before the second wave unleashed itself upon the Mumbaikars.
On April 1, beds at Dedicated Covid Health Centre (DCHC) and Dedicated Covid Hospital (DCH) that treat moderately ill patients and severe cases of Covid-19 were 13,963. These were increased to 20,044 by April 15. This included ICU and ventilator beds that were almost doubled in number in a fortnight. “We have been focusing on up gradation of our facilities. Initially, we had limited ICU beds, we increased that. We had less oxygen beds but during the lean period we upgraded that too along with ventilators,” said Suresh Kakani, BMC Additional Commissioner, Health.
Acting on war footing, the BMC, under the guidance of Commissioner Iqbal Chahal, took some swift action to handle the situation. Right from taking control of Covid beds and ICU beds in private hospitals for a better management of allocation of beds, to decentralising of ward war rooms without slowing down on the upgradation of health facilities were measures that reaped desired results to provide relief to the overwhelmed health facility and handle the surge.
With a decline in numbers, whether it be active cases or fresh infections, and timely measure taken, the maximum city has learnt its lesson and is better placed today when it comes to providing immediate hospitalisation to its Covid positive citizens.
The vacant to occupied ratio of covid beds in the city now is much in control, says Suresh Kakani, adding, “We have more than 31,000 beds with us. Around 40 per cent are vacant. Close to 25 per cent oxygenated beds are vacant. ICU and ventilator beds are also vacant. The problem is, patients should not rush for ICU beds. That’s a decision that a doctor should make and this will make more beds available for needy patients.”
This reporter has learnt that another 5,300 beds will be added to the tally of available Covid beds in Mumbai as the city will have three new jumbo covid centres in Malad, Kanjurmarg and Sion up and running in days to come. But with rise in the number of cases of mucormycosis and constant talks around how the likely third wave will affect children who are nowhere close to getting vaccinated, it’s important for authorities to take these developments into consideration as they ramp up healthcare facilities as part of their ongoing fight against Covid-19.