Published on June 13, 2021

Part of Preparing for the Third Wave series

AHMEDABAD: During the post-Diwali surge, the highest daily cases recorded in Ahmedabad were 354 in November 2020 which rose to 5,790 in April, recording a 16-fold rise. While the number of beds available in private hospitals increased from 2,256 to 6,213, the occupancy in both the waves remained over 90%, making citizens scurry for beds, as the rise in the number of beds was just three times the previous figure.

The second wave thus brought in several changes in approach of private hospitals especially in procuring oxygen, upgrading infrastructure, and getting matching human resources. Currently, about 110 hospitals treat Covid-19 patients in the city. They are gradually reducing the number of beds to make space for post-Covid patients and for planned medical procedures.

Dr Bharat Gadhvi, the president of Ahmedabad Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (AHNA), said that almost all member hospitals are increasing bed capacity by converting the existing wards and adding new infrastructure. “A few hospitals are installing liquid oxygen tanks to address the acute shortage of oxygen at the peak of the second wave,” he said. “Several others are installing PSA plants for getting oxygen from the air.”

Industry sources said that a city like Ahmedabad may witness the addition of about 1,000 beds in the next few months which can be used for both Covid and non-Covid purposes. Focus is also on makeshift arrangements which can be employed at a time of major surge.

AHNA members said that the public-private hospital model worked in favour of the city and Gujarat, with a large section of patients getting treated by the private sector. The AMC in both waves requisitioned beds in private hospitals to reduce the financial burden on patients, which increased the share of hospitalization.

“All hospitals have been told to remain on standby for quick response if the need arises for more beds during the third wave,” said Dr Gadhvi. “The focus is on following standard operating procedures and ensuring oxygen supply.”

Dr Gadhvi added: “Our oxygen bank — one of the first such initiatives in India — is also being expanded to tackle any contingency.”

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