Kolkata: In an indication of things returning to pre-pandemic normality, a bed crisis has hit private hospitals in Kolkata with most now running at capacity, forcing patients to wait 10 days to a fortnight for planned admissions and surgeries.
The scamper for beds began at the end of the last Covid surge in early August, when most hospitals started shutting down their Covid wards following a sharp dip in admissions and re-converting beds for non Covid treatment that were repeatedly postponed due to the Covid waves. Hospitals say the rush is likely to continue during the Pujas since there is a significant backlog of surgeries.
Several hospitals now have more than 50 patients in queue for admission, including many who need cardiac, gall bladder, hernia, knee replacement and gynaecological surgeries. Peerless Hospital, for instance, has no vacant bed for non emergency patients and the average wait for a surgery is 15 days. “All our 350 beds are taken up. We are doing over 40 surgeries a day. All our OTs are booked for the next two weeks,” said CEO Sudipta Mitra. He added cardiac surgeries were never deferred beyond a week before the pandemic but now they were being forced to schedule some after 10-15 days.
At Ruby General Hospital, waiting time for planned admission has stretched to five days, the highest since November 2019. Non emergency surgeries are often being pushed back even further. “As many as 240 of our 270 beds are taken up and we can’t admit more at the moment. We are doing 25 surgeries a day and have extended our OT timings to accommodate more operations. We expect a further spurt in admissions this month. Since a large number of these surgeries were held back since the latter half of the pandemic, the rush for surgeries may continue even during the Pujas,” said Subhasish Datta, GM, operations .
Despite scaling up the number of surgeries to more than 900 last month, RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences (RTIICS) has a long list of patients waiting for procedures. “We start early and have extended our working hours to cope with the increased demand,” said Narayana Hospitals regional head R Venkatesh.
Even critical care patients are being forced to wait several hours for admission at Medica Superspecialty Hospital which is now filled to capacity with 310 patients. “We can’t admit more unless vacancies happen. We are taking in critical patients and keeping them at our emergency rooms where they are being treated initially and then moving them to a bed as soon as a vacancy happens. So far we have managed to keep the waiting time restricted to six hours,” said chairperson Alok Roy. He added that emergency patients are being allotted a bed immediately but waiting time for planned surgeries is around two days. “This rush is set to continue since there’s a huge backlog of planned surgeries and treatment,” he added.
Woodlands Hospital has been operating at a “very high occupancy of 90%” for a week now, said MD Rupali Basu, adding that so far they have not had to reschedule any planned surgeries. AMRI Hospital has an occupancy of 620 across its three units, the highest since the pandemic, but there’s no waiting time for admissions here as yet.
Peerless Hospital: Waiting time for a planned surgery has touched a fortnight
The hospital is doing more than 40 surgeries a day now and all operation theatres are booked for the next two weeks.
Ruby General Hospital: Waiting time for planned admission has stretched to five days at, the highest since November 2019.
Non emergency surgeries are often being pushed back even further.
RTIICS: Have a long list of patients waiting for procedures
The hospital has extended its working hours to cater to the load. It is now doing more than 900 surgeries a month.
Medica Superspecialty Hospital: Critical care patients are having to wait several hours for admission
Most frequently done surgeries now are Cardiac, gall bladder, hernia, knee and hip replacements and gynaecological surgeries.