Hyderabad: Even as Hyderabad continues to witness huge spike in COVID cases, private hospitals are refusing admission and cases of  COVID suspects dying in transit have surfaced. But, according to the Telangana government, more than 14000 beds are available every day in the state-run hospitals. Of which 1100 are available  in Gandhi hospital, only.

Yet many patients and families prefer private hospitals which have a limited bed capacity. This Correspondent spoke to doctors at government hospital and private to find out why patients refer private over government.

Speaking to Newsmeter, Dr Shashidhar Reddy, President, Junior Doctor Association, Gandhi Medical College and Hospital said,  “In an ideal situation, a doctor can treat only 2 to 3 ICU patients. But at Gandhi, a doctor treats more than 20 patients. Half of the staff are in quarantine. The government has hired doctors, but it will take time for the situation to get back to normal. Gandhi Hospital is treating only COVID symptomatic patients. Patients, who don’t have COVID certificate and symptoms, cannot get admitted in Gandhi. Families may have a different notion about government hospital and prefer private.”

Osmania General Hospital (OGH) does not treat COVID patients. However, it admits the patients until the time of confirmation. “When patients with COVID symptoms come to the hospital, we isolate them in a dedicated ward. Those patients who test positive are shifted to Gandhi Hospital. Non- COVID patients are shifted to the critical ward,” said Pandu Naik, acting superintendent, OGH.

The non-COVID patients are then shifted to a cramped ward where more than 600 people are being treated with a few nurses at the helm.

With the government healthcare system crumbling, patients turn to private hospitals. But they are not admitting given the shortage of beds. Even the poor are turning to private hospitals. But when any patient dies, the hospital does not hand over the body until the family clears the bills.

“Most of the time our beds are full. If we admit any patients without any test reports, we are putting our staff in danger,” said a private hospital staff member.

With lack of facilities in the government hospitals and unavailability of beds in private hospitals, Dr Venkateshwar Rao MD (Ophth) AIIMS explains the way forward.

Engage the public to reinforce their faith to get treated at Government Hospital. The government should pass an order whereby all private hospitals must reserve 60% of beds for treating COVID patients and rest 40% to be kept for treating non-COVID patients

All private hospitals should create a holding area where oxygen can be given directly to patients until the paperwork and formalities of getting a bed and admission are completed.

Make COVID testing accessible and mandatory at all government and private Hospitals by using Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) which gives faster results. All RAT negative patients if symptomatic should undergo RT PCR.

Gandhi hospitals being centre of excellence for COVID must not turn away patients for want of COVID certificate. Use RAT for symptomatic patients and admit those who are positive right away in Gandhi. Have RT PCR lab to process the samples instead of sending them to testing centres.

Sumit Kumar Jha

Sumit Kumar Jha is currently a multimedia journalist with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University and Amity University, he has interned with The New Indian Express and CGNet Swara. Sumit has also worked with video production houses in Mumbai as an assistant director in shows like 21 Sarfrosh for Discovery Jeet. He is specialised in Video Production. He was also the contributor at PARI network. Hailing from rural Bihar has spent his childhood shifting from places and people. Growing up he felt the need to document the lives and dreams of rural India. A lover of visual storytelling goes around the cities to search for Stories. He primarily reports on civic, human interest and data stories.

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