Government directs private health institutions to set aside 1,000 beds for Covid patients, but they say it’s impossibleDoctors have warned that the Health Ministry's decision to order hospitals to allocate 20 percent of their beds for Covid-19 patients could spell disaster as most of the hospitals don’t have the facilities to control the transmission of infections.
As the number of symptomatic coronavirus cases continues to grow, the government wants private hospitals to allocate upto 1,000 beds for Covid-19 patients.
But private hospitals seem reluctant to do so.
As public hospitals are overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients, the Ministry of Health and Population directed the Association of Private Health Institutions, Nepal, to set aside as many as 1,000 beds and 100 ICUs for virus patients.
The new directive from the government, which had earlier directed private institutions to allocate 20 percent of their total bed capacity for Covid cases, is impossible to implement, hospital operators say. “We can’t allocate beds and ICUs the government has asked for,” said Kumar Thapa, senior vice president at the Association of Private Health Institutions.
“Representatives from the Ministry of Health have sought 1,000 beds and 100 ICU. But we can’t afford to provide all of what is being asked,” Thapa told the Post. “At best, we can manage up to 500 beds and 60 ICUs. We are making plans and will decide how to go about it soon. But managing 1,000 beds is impossible.”
Sameer Adhikari, joint spokesperson for the ministry, said that pressure on public hospitals treating Covid-19 was getting “tighter”, and the ministry is discussing the prospect of admitting patients to private hospitals.
“We have already coordinated with certain hospitals such as Manmohan Hospital, KMC, NMC, Yeti Hospital, and Megha Hospital,” he said.
“The pressure is getting tighter and public hospitals are packed with patients. But now we are only admitting those who show symptoms. The transmission rate is rising and occupancy levels are picking up.”
Jageshwore Gautam, spokesperson for the health ministry, however, said that the public hospitals have sufficient facilities to deal with the current surge in number of patients. “There’s pressure on the hospitals, but it’s not unmanageable”.
“As of now, the government is managing itself and there’s no need to place the patients in private hospitals,” he said. “Those without symptoms are being discharged from public hospitals. There’s pressure in hospitals, but it’s not unmanageable at the moment. Those who report positive, but have no symptoms are placed in isolation centres for two weeks.”
Doctors have warned that the Ministry of Health and Population’s decision to order hospitals to allocate 20 percent of their beds for Covid-19 patients could spell disaster as most of the hospitals don’t have the facilities to control the transmission of infections..
In addition, management of Covid patients would be tricky too, said Thapa, the vice president. “Private institutions are already struggling to manage patients who show symptoms of Covid, but remain undiagnosed,” he said. “Placing Covid patients in all hospitals would only add to the already confused management mechanism in those hospitals.”
On August 15, the government announced that it has 984 ICU beds and 490 functional ventilators. As of Wednesday, the tally of Covid infection in the country has reached 34,418. A total of 14,250 infected people are in isolation across the country—669 at home and 8581 at institutional isolation centres.