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Mumbai faces severe shortage of ventilators

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Mumbai and its adjoining municipal corporation areas faced a severe shortage of ventilators on Sunday with many government jumbo centres having a long waitlist to admit patients in need of ventilator support.

Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation has 40 ICU beds. Deputy Municipal Commissioner Shambhaji Panpatte said, “All our ICUs are full as of now.”

Vasai Virar Municipal Corporation has 17 Covid hospitals. Avinash Gunjalkar, who manages data for bed allocation, said, “All our ICU and ventilator beds are full when I last checked in noon.”

From oxygen shortage to dearth of ICU, Nimesh Bagadia witnessed all the hurdles in Covid treatment. His younger brother Jagdish (45) was admitted in Max Care hospital, Mira Road, earlier this week. “Two days later the hospital said there was no oxygen and asked us to look for another hospital,” Bagadia said.

On Friday, Jadgish was admitted in Seven Star hospital in Kandivali. By Sunday the hospital asked the family to look for an ICU in other hospitals. “He requires multi-specialty treatment due to Guillain Barre syndrome. I have called 18 hospitals, visited five hospitals myself, but we can’t find an ICU anywhere,” he said. By late evening, after a patient died, an ICU slot in KEM opened and Bagadia rushed his brother there.

In another case, Jitendra Dhanjbhai, on oxygen support of 3-4 litres per minute at home, had worsened to oxygen saturation level of 82. A local doctor advised urgent ICU admission. His daughter Jignisha looked the entire Saturday for an ICU bed. Finally on Sunday afternoon the family had no option— an oxygen bed was available in Dahisar jumbo centre and they decided to admit him there. The doctor said he cannot assure the family of an ICU as 26 patients are in the waitlist. “We have five ventilators but no bed or oxygen port to attach them to. Those five ventilator machines are useless here,” the doctor said.

While the publicly accessible dashboard of BMC showed that 17 of 1,444 ventilators and 60 of 2,861 ICUs were vacant in the city for Covid-19 patients, an internal live dashboard showed on Sunday (3 pm) that Mumbai had only six ventilators and 21 ICUs vacant. But

Two ventilators in Tata Memorial Hospital were reserved for cancer patients, two in Group of TB hospital were reserved for tuberculosis patients, one ventilator shown vacant in Pasaydan Hospital and Trust in Ghatkopar was actually occupied. “We have 5 ventilators and all are full. We are not maintaining a waiting list. As soon as a ventilator is available we take the next patient,” a hospital official said. The one ventilator available was in PD Hinduja hospital. “That is also for emergency cases,” said CEO Joy Chakraborty. There were no ventilators available in government hospitals.

Of 21 ICUs in 11 hospitals that the internal dashboard showed, only BKC jumbo facility had five ICUs in government sector. The rest were in private sector. When The Indian Express reached out to nine of these hospitals, at least two said they have ICU but limited oxygen supply and cannot admit more patients, four other hospitals said they have no ICU available.

Commissioner I S Chahal said there is stress on ICUs despite scaling up from 1,500 to 2,800 ICU beds across the city during the second wave. “We are trying to start 100 more ICUs this week,” he said.

Of 11 hospitals on dashboard, six said they either had no oxygen or bed available.

Bhandup Criticare Hospital: It has seven ICU beds. The BMC dashboard showed at least one was vacant. “We have no ICU left. I don’t know why it is showing available on dashboard,” a hospital official said.

Dr Meena’s Specialty Hospital, Bhandup: A doctor said they have one ICU bed available but they cannot admit anyone who needs over 10 litres per minute oxygen. “We have limited supply. We have one patient who requires over 26 litres per minute, we are looking for another hospital to shift him. We can only sustain a patient who needs 4-5 litres per minute in ICU,” a doctor said.

Godrej Memorial hospital, Vikhroli: A hospital official said no ICU beds were vacant.

Ramakrishna Mission Hospital, Khar: “We have one ICU bed. But we are not admitting new patients. Oxygen is very limited and we don’t know when supply will come,” an official said.

Shubham Hospital and ICU, Mankhurd: Its one vacant ICU was also occupied by noon, though the dashboard showed it was vacant.

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