Delhi’s ICU beds reservation causes misery to non-Covid patients (IANS Special)

<br>The order has imploded the misery of those non-Covid patients who are seriously ill. Many of them postponed their elective surgeries obliging to the advisory issued by the government when the Covid-19 arrived in India. If the fear of Covid was not enough already, these patients would also have to battle for the beds now.

68-year-old Bhuvneshawar Dayal from Deoria in eastern Uttar Pradesh is suffering from liver cirrhosis. He had recently decided to go for a transplant after waiting for months. He had even made an appointment at a leading private hospital in Delhi and reached before time only to be surprised that the hospital has been ordered to reserve 80 per cent ICU beds for Covid patients. “Kindly postpone your surgery,” he said he was told by the hospital.

Same is the story of 38-year-old Anahita Tyagi, who is a breast cancer patient from Ghaziabad. She had completed three cycles of chemotherapy at the Max super-speciality hospital but now is sceptical of undergoing surgery. “I want to recover from cancer, but also don't wish to die from Covid,” she said. She is currently looking for hospitals outside Delhi.

Doctors at the Fortis Vasant Kunj said that over 100 patients suffering from renal diseases visit their centre. Many of them require dialysis at least three times a week. However, they have started to discontinue after the order. “My father lives on dialysis, and he had a satisfactory experience here. However, I'm forced to look for other options because the hospital has reserved 80 per cent of its ICU beds. My father falls in a vulnerable group of patients and needs to stay away from any potential source of infection,” said Bhawna Arora, daughter of a dialysis patient.

A senior oncologist from a leading private hospital told IANS that patients of cardiac, cancer, neuro and transplants do not come to the hospitals. “However, even if they come, we don't have beds for them now after the order by the Delhi government,” she said.

She also said that the Delhi government's order would result in deaths far greater than the Covid numbers. “Early detection is the cure in such diseases, especially in cancer. The patients having the first stage of cancer are now coming with stage-3 as they could not avail diagnosis and treatment during the period of lockdown. In ovarian cancer, surgery is mandatory within four weeks of chemotherapy. Many patients had finished their chemotherapy but missed the surgeries as the Covid started. They lost time, and now they will lose their life,” she said.

“Due to Covid, cancer patients have already lost the boat. They can't climb it now. Now the order of the Delhi government will result in thousands of more deaths,” the oncologist added.

It's on record that the mortality in cancer is far greater than the Covid. Besides, cancer patients don't get much time to wait for diagnosis and treatment. A delay of two months could progress their diseases into the third stage from stage one.

Meanwhile, another doctor from a private hospital ordered to reserve ICU beds said the government should be far-sighted in assessing the effectiveness of their direction on non-Covid patients. “The government should be far-sighted, not short-sighted to assess the effect of blocking ICU beds for Covid patients only when a great number of the patients suffer from other serious illnesses. There won't be immediate deaths, but it could result in another epidemic of deaths caused due to cancer and other serious non-communicable diseases,” he added.

The industry experts also said that the order of the Delhi government is particularly lethal for the non-Covid patients. Besides, it is not viable to sustain the operations of the hospitals.

“Lockdown restrictions and fear of contracting infection have resulted in lower footfalls at the hospitals and postponement of pre scheduled surgeries. Our healthcare system is facing serious challenges related to the skilled workforce while our frontline workers are going beyond their call of duty to serve the nation. The private healthcare sector must survive to serve the nation.

“Reserving beds is not a long term solution as it will jeopardise the operational sustainability of private hospitals. The government's support is critical, and we urge a collaborative and consultative approach, enabling the private healthcare institutions to function optimally. Moreover, the move will severely affect non-Covid patients as the disease burden for such ailments is increasing without being accounted for,” said Dr. Ashutosh Raghuvanshi, MD & CEO, Fortis Healthcare Ltd.

“The mandate of allocating 80 per cent beds for Covid patients may impact the confidence of non-Covid patients, especially those who had been carrying illnesses within and waiting for the Covid situation to improve to be able to come back to hospitals for getting the treatments, and it's been six months now.

“In the last few weeks, hospitals had seen some confidence in these unfortunate patients coming back to visit hospitals for their illnesses. However, this allocation is going to push back their confidence on hospitals being Covid safe for non-covid patients, and the bed availability for them may also become an issue,” said Dr. Kousar A. Shah, COO, Aakash Healthcare & Super Specialty Hospital, Dwarka.


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