On a mission to take ‘drop-in ICUs’ to every taluk

G Balachandar Chennai | Updated on November 13, 2020

Dr Raja Amarnath, founder of CIPACA

Hospitals offers space; CIPACA takes care of critical care facilities and medical personnel

India struggles with an acute shortage of healthcare professionals and lack of critical healthcare services in rural areas. From mobile vans to telemedicine, much has been tried to bridge the healthcare gap between India and Bharat.

Now, here comes yet another effort. City-based Chennai Interventional Pulmonology and Critical Care Associates (CIPACA), founded by Dr Raja Amarnath (who has training and experience in international critical care operations) is on a mission to bridge the gap between secondary and tertiary care in rural areas and small towns as it has been offering a world-class critical care services to the hospitals outside of cities.   

While developed nations have more than 10 ICU beds for 1 lakh population, India has only 2.5 ICU beds and about 80 of these beds in India are in Metropolitan cities. But, 70 per cent of the Indian population lives in rural areas. CIPACA's mission is to bridge this gap and to make tertiary-level ICU services accessible, affordable and standardised to all in the country, says Amarnath. 

The five-year-old CIPACA’s current operations include management of ICU operations across 10 hospitals, 9 of which are outside Chennai. It has more than 200 ICU beds, which help save more than one lakh lives every year. Every month the company adds new projects.  

 “Hospitals in rural areas face challenges starting from recruiting doctors, nurses and maintaining those teams, training them, retaining them, and more importantly getting the quality output from their work. CIPACA has solved all these problems,” said Dr Amanarth.  

CIPACA’s model is described as a drop-in ICU concept, under which it just requires space and basic infrastructure in any hospital. Based on the requirements by the hospital, it provides ICU equipment, ICU doctors, nurses and other manpower with, operations, technology and guidance.   

Dr Vignesh Raj, Managing Director, Raja Rajeshwari Hospital, in Dindigul, located in southern Tamil Nadu said: “After CIPACA came on board in March 2020 to manage our 24/7 emergency and ICU operations, the scenario has completely changed. They have a trained team of intensivists, staff nurse, and duty doctors."

"Each ICU patient is monitored through CCTV and they also have an access to super specialities in Chennai and if needed, abroad. This completes the entire system and fills the gap that exists between secondary care and tertiary care in small centres and rural areas,” Raj added.

Cost of ICU bed

"Above all, the cost is not as much as tertiary facilities in big cities or corporate hospitals. It is a boon for those who are critically ill and don’t want to go to a government hospital and yet cannot afford a corporate hospital. We see some kind of middle path in which CIPACA offers the same equally treatment at much, much lower costs,” he added.

It is estimated that an ICU bed costs in the range of ₹60,000-1 lakh per day in corporate hospitals in metro and big cities, while in tier 2 towns is estimated at ₹40,000-60,000. But, CIPACA managed hospital charges ₹20,000 per day for a ventilator patient in a small town like Dindigul. 

“We are on a mission to establish at least one ICU in every taluk. In the next 2-3 years, we aim to make ICUs available at least 500 taluks in rural India. We want to achieve this by collaborating with local hospitals - it may be private hospitals, trust hospitals, teaching hospitals or government hospitals, said Amarnath.  

CIPACA is already in talks with a few state governments to set up ICU operations at government hospitals in small towns and sees a positive response from the governments. 

“Currently, our operation-driven model does not require any investment for ourselves. We aggregate different sources and mobilise it to rural areas and set up ICUs. But we welcome financial supports, or investments or funds to support our patients and for our partnering hospitals to serve their patients better, said Dr Amarnath.     

Published on November 13, 2020

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