Published on May 30, 2021

Ahmedabad: Covid-19 is not letting off severe patients easily. Even after recovery from the viral infection, its morbid-effect continues to keep patients hospitalized or forces them to seek critical medical attention after discharge. City-based private hospitals said that over 70% of the ventilators and ICU beds for non-Covid patients are in fact occupied by the Covid-recovered patients.

Dr Bharat Gadhvi, president of Ahmedabad Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (AHNA), said that 168 private hospitals are currently treating Covid patients. “Majority of them have now adopted a hybrid model where they also offer non-Covid treatment. But our recent analysis revealed that over 70% of the ventilators and ICU beds for non-Covid patients are in fact engaged to provide treatment to Covid-recovered patients,” he said.

Dr Gadhvi, who is also regional director of HCG Hospitals, said that all 12 non-Covid ventilators at his hospital in the city have Covid-recovered patients.

Dr Sanjay Shah, head of emergency department at Apollo Hospitals, said that the phenomenon identified as post-Covid sequelae is responsible. “Majority of the patients have respiratory issues due to high lung involvement during Covid infection. They thus need ventilator, BiPAP or NRBM support,” he said. “At our facility, out of total capacity about 60% ICU and ventilator beds have Covid-recovered patients.”

Dr Jigar Mehta, critical care specialist at KD Hospital said that all 20 ventilator beds for Covid patients continue to remain occupied even as Covid numbers are headed south. “Majority of the patients with highly damaged lungs need ventilatory support for 30 or 45 days. They neither record any improvement or deterioration in condition. It’s a major emotional and financial drain for the patients,” he said, adding that only 25-30% get fully recovered.

Dr Anil Jain, medical director of Epic Hospital, said that the most common post-Covid complication is lung inflammation. “These patients find it difficult to maintain desirable oxygen levels, and thus need both BiPAP or invasive ventilation depending on the oxygen dependency. Apart from mucormycosis, septicemia (bloodstream infection) and secondary bacterial infection are also seen in many recovered patients,” he said, adding that the majority of critical care beds at his facility have such patients.

Damage to the heart is also very common among the Covid-recovered patients, said Dr Sameer Dani, CEO of Apollo CVHF, who said that there are several implications of severe Covid infection for patients. “Clotting due to Covid can cause vascular complications, stroke, heart attack, and ischemia (restriction of blood supply to tissues),” he said. “We have also seen patients of myocarditis (inflammation of heart) that required ICU and ventilator care.”

Dr Minesh Mehta, a senior intensivist with Shalby Hospital, said that out of three ICU units, two are full with 30-odd Covid-recovered patients. “Several patients don’t recover completely from the lung damage caused by the viral infection, and they need prolonged support. Prolonged stay generally graduates from single organ failure to multiple organ failure – thus, often these patients get critical and require extra care,” he said.

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