Government hospitals in Chennai do a tightrope walk

With the active caseload surging past 25,000 in Chennai on Sunday, it is a tightrope walk for government hospitals in the city. Hospitals are focusing on triaging patients and are taking up work to increase the bed strength.

In all, the five major government hospitals in Chennai have 4,368 beds for patients with COVID-19. As on April 18, 3,002 beds were occupied, with the Government Corona Hospital at Guindy running to full capacity. A number of patients are waiting for admission depending on discharges.

“We have been running to capacity for some time now. Our admissions depend on discharges. We have a COVID-19 Care Centre near our campus at NTSI, Guindy. So, we are triaging patients and sending those with mild symptoms, asymptomatic patients, young patients with no co-morbidities to the CCC while keeping the beds for those with moderate and severe illness,” K. Narayanasamy, Director of the Government Corona Hospital, said.


Oxygen saturation

He said doctors, who work in four batches, closely monitor the patients round-the-clock to pick up any changes in symptoms and track oxygen saturation level. “Oxygen saturation level is checked a minimum of eight times a day,” he said.

At the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, Dean E. Theranirajan said they were working out ways to add 250 beds. “Earlier, we had 60% asymptomatic patients and 40% symptomatic cases. Now, we have more number of symptomatic patients. Many of them require oxygen and are admitted to the hospital,” he said.

Crucial days

Persons who come in with respiratory distress and require oxygen come on day four or five after symptoms start to develop.

“Day five to nine is the critical period, and many come during this time. Those who come on the first day do not experience such severity of disease,” he said.

R. Jayanthi, Dean of the Government Medical College Hospital, Omandurar Estate, said they had set up two separate outpatient departments and triage from Monday — one for positive patients and the other for those with suspected symptoms. “This helps streamline the outpatient department, and patients are not hassled,” she said, adding that they would certainly increase the number of beds as they get more manpower.

A senior doctor in another hospital said cases were on the rise, and they were handling admissions on a day-to-day basis.


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