Gujarat hospitals unable to admit patients for want of trained medical staff, oxygen

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on April 30, 2021

Representational image   -  The Hindu

Ahmedabad's newly-built 900-bed Dhanvantari hospital operates sub-optimally even as patients queue-up

Severe shortage of human resources, coupled with flooding of Covid-19 patients, has thrown hospital infrastructure completely out of gear in most of the towns in Gujarat. At several cities, hospitals have no other option but deny admission to Covid-19 patients owing to shortage of either trained healthcare staff or medical-grade oxygen.

The severity of the ground situation can be gauged from a widely-circulated video from Ahmedabad, where an autorickshaw driver was seen pushing through the barricades at the entrance of newly-set up 900-bed Dhanvantari Covid-19 hospital on Thursday.

On one side, the autorickshaw driver was desperately seeking a bed for his critical relative, and on the other side of the gate, the helpless security guards held ground following directions from authorities, who were reportedly running short of trained staff for Covid-19 patients. On April 24, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had visited this hospital to oversee the preparations, and on April 25, the hospital had started admitting Covid-19 patients. The government informed that of the 900-beds, about 380 were occupied at the hospital as on April 29, even as people queued up for hours outside the gates for new admissions.

The State government, however, has acknowledged the staff crunch in its affidavit to the Gujarat High Court, and has started making efforts to rope-in trained medical staff by deploying second- and third-year MBBS students on Covid-19 duty. For non-core medical roles such as support staff or para-medics, too, there is shortage. Even as the walk-in recruitments are underway, the authorities are roping-in academic staff from colleges for administrative non-core duties.

RIL hospital

Experts opined that merely erecting hospital infrastructure without adequate healthcare staff to attend to the patients will only add to the anxiety and crisis for the people and authorities. In Jamnagar, Reliance Foundation, part of the petroleum behemoth Reliance Group, has committed to set up 1000-bed Covid hospital, for which the State government has agreed to provide manpower. “We are staring at a big crisis. No body knows from where they (government) will source the required trained healthcare staff,” said a doctor experiencing medical staff shortage in Jamnagar district.

In Southern Gujarat the situation is simmering with shortage of oxygen at two of the main Covid-19 hospitals at Surat – the government-run Civil Hospital and civic-body-managed Surat Municipal Institute of Medical Education & Research (SMIMER) hospital. Locals informed that the hospitals had to temporarily stop new admissions due to shortage of oxygen.

In North Gujarat, Unjha town faces a similar situation. Speaking to BusinessLine, Arvind Patel, former chairman of Unjha APMC, said: “There are five hospitals, including a civil hospital in the vicinity. But sometimes even if there is a vacant bed in the hospital, there would be no oxygen and the patients couldn’t get admitted. What is the use of a vacant bed if there's no oxygen for the patient.”

Published on April 29, 2021

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