States get going: Dedicated hospitals, new isolation wards, more doctors

West Bengal, which recorded its first death Monday, has designated Calcutta Medical College (CMC) hospital as the state's first dedicated super speciality facility to face the challenge.




WITH KERALA and Maharashtra recording more than 100 cases of the coronavirus, and a national lockdown in place, other states and union territories are ramping up their facilities for testing, isolation and treatment to contain the outbreak.

From Tamil Nadu to Jammu and Kashmir, they have increased isolation facilities, set up designated hospitals, fast-tracked appointment of new doctors, called in retired professionals and reached out to the private sector.

West Bengal, which recorded its first death Monday, has designated Calcutta Medical College (CMC) hospital as the state’s first dedicated super speciality facility to face the challenge.

Health Department sources told The Indian Express that CMC will start a 700-bed isolation bay within a week, which will be expanded to accommodate 3,000 people.

The 11-storey CMC facility will include a dedicated ICU zone on the ninth and tenth floors, they said. The state already has two quarantine centres, and earmarked 310 beds at three other hospitals in Kolkata.

In UP, 2,800 isolation beds are in place, while work is on to make 11,000 more available at 51 public and private medical colleges. Testing is currently being being done at six labs — KGMU (Aligarh), BHU Institute of Medical Sciences (Varanasi), SGPGI (Lucknow), Medical College (Meerut) and Command Hospital (Lucknow). Two more labs — NIV centre (Gorakhpur) and Safai Medical College (Etawah) — will be added soon.

Tamil Nadu is readying a 350-bed isolation ward — with over 20 critical care facilities and 700 toilets — at the multi-super speciality government hospital on Mount Road in Chennai. City-based Apollo Hospitals, which has received approval for a testing lab, has offered to treat patients at its 100-bed facility.

Haryana is pressing more personnel into action. The government has decided to immediately issue appointment letters to 447 doctors who were recently selected for service but are yet to undergo the character verification and medical examination process.

The state has also created a revolving fund of Rs 100 crore for key departments, and given the green signal for testing at private labs in at least four locations and designating four hospitals.

The Andhra government is increasing the capacity of testing labs at seven medical colleges to cover 1,000 samples per day — Rs 5 lakh will be given to each lab to purchase key equipment, and function round the clock.

The state has also deputed research scientists and assistants, and lab technicians, on a temporary basis to labs in Visakhapatnam, Kakinada, Vijayawada, Guntur, Anantapur and YSR Kadapa districts.

Rajasthan has started earmarking quarantine facilities for 1 lakh people, ranging from 1,500 beds in smaller districts such as Dungarpur to 10,000 beds in Jaipur.

Gujarat has 134 quarantine facilities with a capacity of 6,700 beds in place. Officials said facilities in Ahmedabad will be increased to a dozen quarantine centres with 5,000 beds.

In Yelahanka, near Bengaluru, the BSF is ready with three 100-bed barracks to extend quarantine facility for 300 people, while the IAF has established a 20-bed isolation ward at Command Hospital. Private hospitals have assured that 1,200 beds will be dedicated for patients.

In Jammu, the 1,070-bed Government Medical College (GMC) Hospital has been designated as a COVID-19 facility, with the administration deciding to hire retired doctors on contract for a year for “under-served areas”.

Authorities in Kashmir have decided to convert SKIMS Medical College, C D Hospital, JLNM Hospital and the Police Hospital in Srinagar into isolation facilities.

And in Uttarakhand, the government has tagged four medical colleges, in Dehradun, Almora, Haldwai and Srinagar. It has directed private hospitals and medical colleges with a minimum of 100 beds to reserve at least 25 per cent for isolation.

Some states are yet to catch up with the rest. For instance, the Goa Medical College remains the state’s lone testing facility, prompting a team of doctors to approach the government for a separate hospital.

(ENS inputs from West Bengal, UP, TN, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, J&K, Goa, Gujarat and Uttarakhand)

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