Are Indian Private Hospitals Equipped to Handle COVID-19 Patients?

Private hospitals will test only if one show all 3 symptoms of cough, respiratory problem & fever, says Dr Gyani.  

3 min read
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The Quint has accessed a letter issued on 20 March by Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, meant for all central and private hospitals and medical institutions, chalking out plans to be taken up by hospitals to deal with the novel coronavirus outbreak in coming days.

Agarwal says all hospitals should “mobilise additional resources and train healthcare personnel for dealing with any foreseeable emergencies”. He further adds that all hospitals should carry out preparedness drills at the earliest.

He emphasised that OPDs may be organised in such a manner that patients exhibiting flu-like symptoms are attended separately from other patients and spaced out so as to avoid overcrowding.

“No suspected COVID-19 patient should be turned away from any hospital and the admission of any such patient should be notified to National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Integrated Disease Surveillance Program (IDSP),” adds Agarwal.

‘Private Hospitals To Test Only If Patients Show All 3 Symptoms’

The Quint spoke to Dr Girdhar Gyani, Director General at Association of Healthcare Providers on the preparedness of private hospitals to deal with Covid-19 patients.

Are private hospitals prepared to provide treatment to Covid-19 patients?

Private hospitals have stopped doing non-essential operations, hence we have plenty of beds available in case of emergency.

What are the measures that the private hospitals are taking?

We are doing an experiment in Bengaluru, Karnataka, where 2,000 beds have been converted in the government hospital with the help of private support. And these 2000 beds will be kept exclusively for COVID-19 patients only. We are making similar proposal for all India basis.

And we will give a proposal that in every district, we should have minimum 500 beds to start with, and in bigger districts/cities like Bengaluru, Delhi, etc, we should have 2,000 beds.

Do private hospitals have the resources?

These beds would be available by converting a government hospital or a private hospital entirely as a COVID-19 hospital. It should be kept vacant (for COVID-19) patients with trained staff and nurses and should have all the necessary medical supplies.

You see, it is not that suddenly a patient will come and we will be ready, hospitals will not be ready. We need to have masks and aprons and appropriate medicines. And this can happen only if one or two hospitals in each district are designated and we keep them in readiness because when the emergency will come, it will come in masses. Not one but in 100s.


Audio of telephonic interview with Dr. Gidhar Gyani on private hospitals preparedness for Coronavirus patients.


How many hospitals will be prepared for COVID-19 patients?

We have asked the government about how many beds they need, and we will make them available by converting two or three hospitals into COVID-19 hospitals.

Why do we have such small numbers of private hospitals doing tests?

Right now, people are going to government hospitals. And so far, numbers are not so huge.

A patient simmering with cold and cough for past 10 days, we will not test them. Not until he/she is showing right symptoms like respiratory disease, high temperature - 100 or 102 degree. If these symptoms are common (cough, respiratory and fever), only then we will test them.

As you know, a person is asymptomatic for a few days, then how will one know whether he/she is effected or not?

I know that is the risk, I know after 4-5 days these cases will come out in open. And we are wishing that doesn’t happen.

Has community transmission started?

Community transmission has happened but at a very minimal stage. That’s the reason why government has initiated lockdowns.

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