Tackling Coronavirus outbreak: Mumbai readies ‘remote’ jumbo Covid-19 cure units

Published: June 2, 2020 3:00 AM

They will have a combined capacity of 8,000-9,000 beds and require roughly a fifth of the staff at any hospital.

These facilities will be run with roughly a fifth of the staff that is present at any hospital; the ICUs will, however, be manned by half the number of medical staff typically present at a typical ICU.These facilities will be run with roughly a fifth of the staff that is present at any hospital; the ICUs will, however, be manned by half the number of medical staff typically present at a typical ICU.

By Malini Bhupta

Mumbai is gearing up to roll out seven “jumbo” Covid Care Centres that will deliver healthcare services via remote technology requiring fewer doctors and nurses on call. The first one is already operational and by mid-June the remaining six should be ready to receive patients. Together, they will have a combined capacity of 8,000-9,000 beds and 500-600 ICU beds would be ready for use.

These facilities will be run with roughly a fifth of the staff that is present at any hospital; the ICUs will, however, be manned by half the number of medical staff typically present at a typical ICU.

The “remote” delivery model has been tested at the National Sports Club of India (NSCI) Dome, in central Mumbai, and the facility should be declared Dedicated Covid Hospital later this week. While the NSCI Dome will start off with 600 beds, 40 ICU isolation beds and 100 oxygen beds, a 3,000-bed facility at Nesco Grounds in Goregaon is slated to open on Tuesday. These facilities are funded by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and CSR contributions and patients will not be charged.

Given the severe shortage of doctors and very few who are willing to volunteer, the contactless model could convince some to return to the field. Surgeon Muffazal Lakdawala, who is advising the Maharashtra government on the jumbo facilities, believes technology can make a big difference. Lakdawala told FE the contactless model at NSCI is being replicated across other jumbo facilities. “We are doing the same with ICUs so that there is only a limited need for a nurse to be stationed in a PPE all the time.

At the NSCI Dome, doctors and medical staff monitor hundreds of patients remotely in the war room through cameras which can zoom into each patient to take a reading of his or her oximeter and pulse reading. Large LED screens project different segments of the Dome (indoor stadium) where 350 Covid positive patients, with mild to moderately severe symptoms, are recovering.

Daily consultations take place through the contactless clinics with doctors sitting behind glass walls and patients recording their own routine readings. One reason doctors and nurses get infected in hospitals is the central air conditioning system. This problem has been addressed to at the jumbo facilities with the insertion of an additional layer such that the virus is burnt before air is pumped out.

The NSCI facility, which started as a quarantine facility, is headed by Dr Neeta Warty and Dr Rajiv Joshi, both older than 60. Warty, a surgeon with a private practice but who is volunteering at the facility, told FE mass infections need mass surveillance. “If everything can be done electronically or remotely, the less stress it puts on the medical infrastructure,” Warty explained. The oxygen beds will allow high flow oxygen to be administered to patients with breathing issues; experts believe these could be more effective than ventilators.

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