Tuesday, March 28

Now showing at West Bengal hospitals: Corona bed vacancy info on display boards

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Three private hospitals have put up boards to display the number of their vacant Covid beds for the benefit of patients seeking admission. While AMRI Hospitals put up the panels at its Salt Lake and Dhakuria units on Saturday, Peerless Hospital has followed it on Monday. RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences (RTIICS), too, has displayed the figures on a notice board.

Some hospitals, however, are hesitant since the number of occupied beds is changing internally since several admitted at the non-Covid units, too, are testing positive, forcing a shift to the Covid unit.

Last week, the state had urged private hospital heads to publicly display the total number of their Covid beds and those that are vacant on their premises. The latter were also asked to send an update of the numbers to the health department every day so that they can be uploaded on the government website.

AMRI Hospitals has put up manual display boards at the emergency departments of Salt Lake and Dhakuria units. “A set of workers is keeping an hourly tab on the number of beds occupied. We are changing the display within minutes of a change,” said CEO Rupak Barua. He, however, admitted that the occupancy could change faster due to the internal shift of patients. “So, the number on the state website may not tally with the number displayed on our board,” added Barua.

Peerless Hospital introduced the boards on Monday at its admission counter. “The board will help to make us transparent about the number of Covid beds. And since the numbers are also on the health department website, patients will have a clear idea about the availability of beds,” said CEO Sudipta Mitra.

Some hospitals are wary about display boards since it could be difficult to reflect the correct figure to the ‘satisfaction of outsiders’, they pointed out. Patients admitted or being treated at the emergency often test Covid positive, which will necessitate a change in numbers internally, said Fortis Hospital pulomonologist Raja Dhar. “That apart, our healthworkers are still testing positive and we must keep a few beds reserved for them. If these are reflected on the display, patient parties may not be ready to accept them,” explained Dhar.

A private hospital CEO agreed that displaying numbers could lead to a miscommunication since they might have to be altered without new admissions or discharges. “More than a dozen non-Covid patients, who had been isolated for a test, have tested positive over the last two weeks. They had to be moved to the Covid unit immediately. Since we allow a family member to accompany the Covid patient, the former have to be tested as well. Many of them have tested positive leading to admissions. These could be difficult to explain to an outsider, especially a patient’s family desperately looking for a bed,” said the CEO.

RTIICS has put up a notice board with real-time details of Covid beds, Covid positives, isolation beds and isolation patients. “Patients are able to see the daily bed status on the state website. Those who arrive at our emergency can see the bed status at the time of entry,” said zonal director R Venkatesh.

Source:Times of India

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