—Vijay V Singh & Malathy Iyer


The civic administration has told city private hospitals with Covid wards to reserve 20% of their ICU and a similar number of Covidpositive beds for BMC to refer poor patients from civic-run hospitals. The patients will not have to pay for beds, but hospitals will be reimbursed under the state government health scheme.

The decision was taken at a virtual meeting with chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday. BMC commissioner Pravin Pardeshi told TOI, “Getting ICU beds and Covid beds reserved for poor patients in private hospitals is the key motive.” He said private hospitals have roughly 2,000 such beds and BMC will get 20% of them. BMC’s disaster control room will coordinate between civic and private hospitals about the admission process for reserved beds.

A senior civic official who attended the meeting said most private hospitals running Covid wards are charity trust-run institutions. “They will get paid for the beds according to the government health scheme and the patient will not be charged,” he added.

One of the main reasons for this arrangement is inadequate ICU beds in public sector hospitals. “Reserving beds in private sector will reduce the burden on civic hospitals,” said an official. Moreover, private hospital beds are well equipped to deal with critical patients. The official said civic-run hospitals are overloaded and many do not have advanced equipment.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, senior bureaucrat Manisha Mhaiskar said, “Earlier projections for patients likely to need a hospital bed was done at 10% of total positive patients But current experience indicates that a good 30-40% of corona positive patients occupy hospital beds. Many are, of course, asymptomatic but are either elderly or with co-morbidities.” She added that patients simply feel a hospital bed more reassuring.

It is learnt that the civic body is augmenting Covid beds. Nair hospital, now a Covid-only hospital, will increase its capacity to 935 beds by next week, as against 388 commissioned. KEM in Parel and Sion hospital will increase Covid beds by 100 each.