Shortage of ICU, ventilators likely in Chitwan with growing COVID-19 cases
Kathmandu. COVID-19 crisis is further deepening in Chitwan with the rise in the infections rate. Amidst this, possible shortage of ICU beds and ventilators which are inevitable to treat patients with severe symptoms is of the prime concern of the hour.
Till Monday, the district reports three COVID-19 deaths while the number of positive cases has reached 368. On overage, over 40 news cases are being detected on patients from inside and outside the district on a daily basis. Chitwan known as the medical hub has one central government hospital, one state hospital, two medical colleges, one cancer hospital and over two dozen of big and small medical facilities.
The government-run Bharatpur Hospital has recommended some infected for home isolation as its existing isolation facility is not sufficient to keep all the infected. If we assess the infections rate and its trend, it seems that preparations for handling the crisis are not enough. The local governments are seen busy in building COVID-19 isolation facilities after the infected failed to find space in health facilities.
According to District Public Health Office chief Deepak Tiwari, till April-May, there were altogether 2,435 beds in the district-based hospital. Of them, 176 are ICU beds and 49 are equipped with ventilator support. The data, however, does not include the cancer hospital. The Bharatpur Hospital has a 30-bed ICU and 10 beds have been allocated for COVID-19 cases. Similarly, among six ventilator-supported beds, two have been used for COVID-19. According to Hospital Development Committee chair Bhojraj Adhikari said in normal time, this number is sufficient, but we are facing its shortage in the days ahead as the infections rate is going up. As he said, no health facilities in the district arranged additional ICU and ventilator during the crisis.
‘’We have discussed about the condition with the State and the Federal Governments,’’ he said.
The Ministry of Health and Population has said asymptotic and patients with mild symptoms can stay in home isolation so that available ICU and ventilators could be used for patients with severe symptoms.
BP Koirala Memorial Cancer Hospital’s executive director Dr Deb Kumar Gautam said the hospital has a 15-bed ICU and it can be extended to the 20-bed if necessary. But the hospital to date has not admitted any COVID case. “We are preparing to launch the COVID-19 test laboratory”.
The Chitwan Medical College ( CMC) has the highest number of 37 ventilator-supported beds across the district. CMC chair and managing director Dr Harish Chandra Neupane said the installation of additional 30 ventilators was on the process. As he said, all ventilators are presently occupied and it cannot be provided for COVID-19 cases.
District’s another College of Medical Sciences and Teaching Hospital, popularly known as Old Medical College, has a 50-bed ICU and 10 ventilators. Treatment for COVID-19 is not available in this hospital as well.
The Narayani Community Hospital’s chief Dr Bhaktaman Shrestha made it clear that hospital’s ventilators could not be provided to COVID patients as they were not enough for regular non-COVID ones. Of its five ventilators, two are used in the ICU and two for the operation theatre.
The international health provision is that there should be one ICU equivalent to two beds and the provision remains unmet as to manage ICU is expensive. With the growing infections rate, the number of symptomatic patients is on the rise in the district, according to Dr Shrestha.
Experts said elderly people, patients with chronic diseases and pregnant and post-partum mothers will need the ICU care and ventilator support if the virus reaches to the community level. But the preparations are not enough and times needs prompt response from bodies concerned to arrange additional ICU and ventilators bearing in mind the crisis.