Coronavirus in Delhi: Large hospitals barely have spare capacity to fight rising infections

By: |
November 16, 2020 6:50 AM

The occupancy rates of hospitals beds, ICUs and ventilators across the capital have been steadily increasing.

For the 13 hospitals, which account for 663 ICU beds, the occupancy was 95%. (Representative image)For the 13 hospitals, which account for 663 ICU beds, the occupancy was 95%. (Representative image)

The Delhi High Court, last week, vacated its stay order and allowed the Delhi government to reserve capacity in 33 Delhi hospitals to cope with rising infections. While this may help pull Delhi back from the brink, with the capital recording over 7,000 cases daily, it is unlikely to alleviate the situation.

The occupancy rates of hospitals beds, ICUs and ventilators across the capital have been steadily increasing. Hospital bed occupancy, which was only 45% until two months ago, has risen to 53%, whereas ICU bed occupancy and ventilator beds occupancy has been teetering around 88%. Until two months ago, only 72% of ICU beds and 60% of ventilators were occupied.

A hospital-wise analysis shows that most of the capacity is available in government hospitals; data from November 15 shows that while 14.3% of ICU beds were vacant in government hospitals, the ICU bed vacancy in private hospitals was 11.5%. More important, even among these most of the capacity was available in smaller hospitals. The average vacancy in hospitals with ten or fewer ICU beds — there are 222 beds in such hospitals — was 29.3%, whereas, for the mid-sized hospitals (10-29 ICU beds), which have a total capacity of 610 beds, only 73 beds or 12% were available. The situation is worse for bigger hospitals, which have over 30 ICU beds. For the 13 hospitals, which account for 663 ICU beds, the occupancy was 95%.

Among these, only four hospitals Fortis Escorts Okhla, Max East/West Block, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, Sarita Vihar and Shri Balaji Action Medical Institute, Paschim Vihar had 34 beds available between them.

In the case of ventilators, however, both government and private hospitals had a vacancy of 12% each. But within private hospitals, there was a wide disparity. Smaller hospitals with less than ten ventilator beds had 197 ventilators in total and an occupancy of 16.8%, whereas in the bigger hospitals, vacancy was a lower 9.3%. Of the 16 hospitals that account for a total of 279 beds, only four had ventilators available.

On Sunday, as Delhi recorded 7,340 cases, active infections in the capital increased to 44,456. Until a month ago, Delhi had 21,903 active infections. With the government projecting cases to rise to 12,000 daily, active cases are only expected to increase, so are hospitalisations.

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