The curious case of hospital beds in Telangana

KV Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on July 10, 2020 Published on July 10, 2020

While people complain of lack of beds on social media, Telangana government says 15,500 beds are unoccupied

A senior journalist in Telangana released a short video last week making an appeal to the State’s Finance Minister T Harish Rao, requesting him to arrange for an ICU bed in a corporate hospital. Tested positive for Covid-19 and gasping for breath, he was literally in tears, looking distraught.

His was not an isolated case. Social media is agog with such accounts in the last few weeks, with patients, kin and friends of Covid-19 patients complaining about the non-availability of beds.

There are even accounts of patients with serious complications being shunted across hospitals before breathing their last.

Government claims

In sharp contrast, Telangana Health Minister Eatala Rajender, Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar and Director of Public Health G Srinivasa Rao have claimed that thousands of ‘general’ beds — those with oxygen supply — and hundreds of ICU beds are available in various government hospitals.

As the total number of Covid-19 cases hits the 30,000-mark, Telangana experiences a strange situation with regard to availability of hospital beds. While complaints mount on social media, the government’s daily status report lists out the availability of beds in public hospitals.

“As of today, the bed occupancy rate is only 9 per cent. Of the available 17,081 beds, only 1,552 beds are occupied, leaving 91 per cent, or 15,529 beds, unoccupied,” said Srinivasa Rao.

Virinchi Virivinti, a clinical cardiologist who is educating people on social media on various aspects of the virulent infectious disease, accuses the media of spreading misinformation. He says the information being provided by the government (on the availability of beds) is true.

Asked whether the apprehensions over hygiene and availability of staff are the reasons for the mistrust in the public health system, he replied in the negative. “If it is true how is it that hundreds of patients are getting cured and discharged from government hospitals?” he asked. “You can’t expect zero mortality rate in Covid-19 cases.”

Health Minister Rajender asserts that the State has 11,928 regular hospital beds, 3,537 beds with oxygen support and 1,616 ICU beds.

At Gandhi Hospital, the nodal hospital for Covid-19 treatment in Telangana, 772 patients are under treatment. Of these, 126 are in the ICU and 319 are on beds with oxygen supplies.

The challenge

The challenge arises when patients seek beds in private hospitals. Only a handful of hospitals are admitting Covid-19 patients. With limited bed capacities, they are refusing admission to many patients.

The government appeals to people to go to the Osmania General Hospital if they are having symptoms like breathlessness.

“If they have corona-like symptoms and no emergency condition, they should go to the ENT Hospital at King Koti. If someone is tested positive, they can seek admission to the Gandhi Hospital,” a senior Health Department official said.

Cases shoot up

Meanwhile, Telangana reported 1,410 new Covid-19 positive cases on Thursday. This includes 918 cases from the Hyderabad region and 125 in the Rangareddy district.

As many as seven patients have succumbed to the viral infection, taking the total number of deaths to 331.

The positivity rate (number of positive cases in a sample size) is alarming. One in every four samples tested positive on Thursday.

As many as 12,423 patients are getting treatment in various hospitals.

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Published on July 10, 2020
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