The Bengal government on Friday designated MR Bangur Hospital in Tollygunge as the city’s first Covid-19 hospital, on a day the state’s total number of “active Covid-19-positive” cases officially rose by four to 38.
The move comes a little more than a week after the government initially identified Medical College Hospital (MCH) and planned to use it for this purpose. That plan, it was learnt, was shelved because MCH did not meet the specifications of the World Health Organization (WHO) and National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for Airborne Infection Isolation (AII) rooms.
Current patients at MR Bangur Hospital are being shifted to SSKM and Sambhunath Pandit hospitals, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said, in order to shield them from Covid-19 patients. Hospital superintendent Sishir Naskar said non-critical patients at the hospital, who do not require immediate hospitalisation, could be discharged. “The rest will be shifted as early as possible,” he said.
“We need to set up a separate facility for Covid-19-affected patients,” Banerjee said at Nabanna. “Otherwise, people admitted in the general ward with symptoms of the virus may spread it.”
The hospital has two buildings — the old building and the new super-speciality building. It can accommodate 900 patients in all. According to the initial plan, the new complex will have the isolation unit, while the old building will be converted into a Covid-19 hospital.
The CCU facility in the new complex will be used to treat patients with co-morbid conditions. “There is oxygen connectivity in all beds, therefore converting it into a Covid-19 hospital, while challenging, is not impossible,” said a senior officer.
The plan, however, was not without initial hiccups. A group of nurses, cleaning staff, security guards and other support staff gathered near the superintendent’s chamber hours ahead of the CM’s announcement at 10am, opposing the move. They alleged lack of PPE and complained that many of them did not have the training to handle such patients. The stir continued for about three hours, after which the superintendent convinced them to withdraw the stir. “We have adequate PPEs. A government circular has reached the hospital and all of us have to abide by it,” Naskar said.
The chief minister, without naming the hospital, later said, “No one wants a Covid hospital in the locality. But people won’t decide where to set up the hospital. The government will take the decision. I came to know that a few doctors were refusing to treat Covid-19 patients, some citizens were stopping families from taking victims to the crematorium. Experts say the virus doesn’t remain active among the dead. Some have opposed requisitioning Sagar Dutta Hospital for dedicated Covid-19 treatment. Under the Disaster Management Act, the government can requisition any hospital it deems fit.”
Banerjee also set aside arguments that turning MR Bangur Hospital into a Covid hospital will put other patients in trouble. “This is not a fact. We have set up two new state health facilities at Diamond Harbour and Kakdwip. What’s more, we are shifting all current patients to SSKM and Sambhu Nath Pandit hospital,” she said.
The CM also urged the public not to panic. “People with co-morbid factors need to be careful. Otherwise, recovery rate of Covid-19 patients in the state is encouraging. I talked to Beliaghata ID Hospital doctors today. All patients in the hospital are doing well. Three patients have been sent home, while another nine are likely to be released today,” she said.
“Of the 38 active patients, 20 are from five families. Four family members of the Covid-affected from Kalimpong have tested positive. I am now getting information that another six members of the same family are showing symptoms,” she said.
Source: Times of India