After four months, Mumbai private hospitals get ready for non-Covid work

MUMBAI: Mumbai’s private hospitals are set to resume their non-emergency, elective surgeries and outpatient consultation, four months after they suspended these procedures to make space for Covid-19 patients.

The move comes as the city is witnessing a drop in severe Covid-19 cases requiring hospitalisation, which has led to freeing up of hospital beds.

Private hospitals, which had to be pushed by the government to give up their beds to the city administration as it suffered with a lack of facilities for Covid-19 patients, are now in a situation where such reserved beds are going empty.

Raheja Fortis had set aside 130 of its 150 beds for Covid-19 patients and 20 for non-Covid cases requiring emergency surgeries. The hospital’s chief executive said now there were more than 30 Covid beds that were empty and that new admissions were also coming down.

The hospital is waiting for the government to withdraw the order requiring private hospitals to reserve 80% of their beds for Covid patients, Hiren Ambegaonkar said. “But now we are deciding instead of having empty facilities we will use those beds for non-Covid-related elective surgery,” he added.

At Raheja, the beds that are going empty are those for which the government has capped the tariffs.

The hospital is ready to resume elective surgeries and reopen its neurology, cardiology and oncology services. Surgeries such as kidney-stone or appendix removal are also set to resume.

From having three separate floors for Covid patients to training their staff in dealing with a future spike, hospitals like Raheja feel confident of opening up for non-Covid patients.

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On Sunday, Mumbai had 6,297 oxygen-supported beds and 189 ICU beds unoccupied.

Hinduja Hospital has resumed OPD by appointment with just one attendant allowed to accompany the patient. The hospital is also preparing to start neurosurgeries and orthopaedics departments which had completely stopped unless it was an emergency.

“Our consultants have put in place all the protocols in place and they are ready. But it is the patients who are still reluctant to walk in because of fear of catching the infection,” Hinduja Hospitals, Mumbai CEO Gautam Khanna said.

Nanavati Hospital, which said it had from the beginning had separate blocks for Covid and non-Covid patients, is in the process of evaluating what all elective surgeries it would start offering. “We had to stop the elective surgeries after the Mumbai corporation had asked hospitals to put them on hold, but now since those restrictions no longer exist, we are slowly opening up,” said CEO Vandana Pakle.

Though the hospital does not have empty Covid beds, the panic that executives like her had two months ago no longer exists, Pakle said, adding: “The pressure to find hospital beds has come down.”


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