By end of August, we expect significant drop in positive cases in Pune: Naval Kishore Ram

It is not appropriate to say that effective measures have not been taken to control the situation. All officials have tried hard to check the spread of the virus in their respective areas. If there is success, people acknolwedge your effort, said Naval Kishore Ram




Once the ‘jumbo’ hospital facilities in Pune city and Pimpri-Chinchwad are set up, local residents will no longer have any complaints about lack of ventilator or oxygenated beds, outgoing District Collector Naval Kishore Ram says in an interview with Manoj Dattatrye More. Excerpts:

How will you describe the Covid situation in PMC, PCMC areas as well as in rural parts of the district? Is the situation under control?

There are certainly signs of improvement in the entire district. It was already under control in rural areas while in PMC and PCMC limits, things are improving. We expect that by the end of August, there will be a significant drop in positive cases as the spread of virus would have been effectively controlled by then. My confidence stems from the way we have tackled the situation by implementing effective measures.

Local residents, activists and politicians have accused PMC and PCMC of not taking strong measures to check the spread of the virus.

It is not appropriate to say that effective measures have not been taken to control the situation. All officials have tried hard to check the spread of the virus in their respective areas. If there is success, people acknolwedge your effort. If there is little success, people question your effort. That is bound to happen. But I must say we have not let down our guard. We have been on our toes and have gone all out to keep the situation under control. Be it in rural areas, or in PMC and PCMC limits, officials have put in 100 per cent efforts.

Complaints about shortage of ventilator beds and oxygenated beds are common from patients and their relatives. When will this situation improve ?

We have achieved major improvement on this front. As of today, we have adequate number of ventilator beds and oxygen beds. It is true that complaints have been pouring in. But once the jumbo hospital facilities in Pune city and Pimpri-Chinchwad are set up, these complaints will become non-existent. In two weeks or so, the severity of this problem will reduce.

PMC and PCMC officials are not seen reaching out to co-morbid citizens in a big way…

It is true that the outreach plan for co-morbid patient has not been up to the mark. But it is not right to say that efforts have not been made to track and treat co-morbid patients. In rural areas, we have been able to reach out to co-morbid patients. In urban areas, there is a problem of huge population density. I can tell you that I have seen the civic records and found that a large number of co-morbid residents have been tracked and treated by the two civic bodies.

The maximum deaths that are reported are of co-morbid patients. Why is there no single-minded focus on them?

Efforts to track and get priority treatment for co-morbid patients are underway. We are focussing on them and will continue to do so. At the same time, it is true that those with pre-existing illnesses get affected most if they get infected. That is why we have put curbs on their movements. We have repeatedly urged such people as well as their families to take extra care of them. They should avoid stepping out of their homes unless it is an emergency. And if they want to step out, they should avoid gatherings and compulsorily use masks.

Covid patients and their families continue to strugle to get admission in a city hospital. They are made to run from pillar to post, especially for patients needing oxygen support…

At Sassoon Hospital, we had set up a system wherein if the hospital does not have space, it will guide patients and their relatives to another hospital where bed space is available. Similarly, directions have been given to other civic, government and private hospitals that they should ensure that Covid patients get proper information about bed space in other hospitals. We have also decided to set up a mechanism at the ward level in the form of call centres to guide patients and their relatives.

Private hospitals continue to overcharge patients… why has no action been taken against them so far?

This is not true, we have issued strict instructions to civic bodies to take action against hospitals found overcharging patients. We expect them to do so as early as possible so as to send out a strong message. Committees and flying squads have been appointed to check the records of private hospitals. The exercise is underway and hospitals found violating norms will certainly face action

In some hospitals like YCMH, there is a shortage of doctors and specialists. Why has this problem not been taken up on priority?

There is a shortage of specialists, especially in civic and government hospitals… we are addressing the issue on priority basis by issuing advertisments and holding conducting interviews. We expect that civic and government hospitals will get adequate number of specialists.

There is constant fear in the mind of Covid patients, but it seems little is being done to address this problem…

Yes, there is a need to step up efforts on this front. At Sassoon and YCM hospitals, counselling is done constantly. Similarly, I have information that in other hospitals also, a similar exercise is underway. But it is true that counselling should be taken up on a bigger scale. Patients fear Covid and they delay seeking treatment…

Nurses are protesting regarding their salaries, long working hours and denial of other facilities.

Such complaints are coming from private hospitals. The managements of private hospitals should do justice to the nurses. If the nurses are demanding a salary hike, their demand should be resolved in the best possible manner… there should six-hour shifts for medical staff. The private hospitals are expected to adhere to government norms. The demands regarding PPE suits should also be addressed.

During your two-year stint in Pune, what was your big achievement?

I would rate the handling of the Bhima Koregaon situation as the top achievement. Besides, conducting the general elections and the state elections peacefully were other achievements. In the last few months, the handling of Covid situation effectively has also given me a sense of satisfaction

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