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No shortage of beds, J&K health department rebuts Srinagar admin claims

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Srinagar: Are Srinagar hospitals running out of beds for COVID patients?

Department of Health and Medical Education has claimed that the bed capacity in Srinagar hospitals has not been exhausted, even as the capacity for COVID Care is being augmented on an urgent basis.


On the other side, Srinagar district administration released a video on July 18 claiming that hospitals are full. “Hospitals are full. Now there are no beds available for patients. When hospitals run out of space to deal with the pandemic, people have no option but to take care of themselves and exercise precaution,” reads the caption of the video

However, Financial Commissioner to Jammu and Kashmir, Health and Medical Education Department Atal Dullo told The Kashmir Monitor that hospitals are not running out of beds in the wake of the high patient load.

“We are taking necessary steps to augment the healthcare set-up. We are not running out of beds. If you see the bed occupancy report, we have around 40-50 empty beds in SKIMS Bemina, around 100 beds in SMHS, and vacant beds in JLMN, vacancies in Kashmir Nursing home, and SKIMS Soura,” he said.

Dullo noted that the department is in the process of strengthening the availability of beds in various institutions converted into COVID care centers.

“These include NIT Srinagar (300 beds), Rangreth (250 beds), Zakura (250-300 beds). We are providing oxygen cylinders and oxygen concentrators to these centers. Also in Hyderpora, Chanpora, Haj House, Institute of Management, Public Administration & Rural Development Guesthouse, Indoor stadium, there is a lot of bed capacity available,” he said.

Dullo claimed that the manpower shortage is managed by drawing people from various agencies including medical colleges and directorate of health services Kashmir.

“We are deputing doctors from primary health centers as well as National Health Mission to augment the strength. The doctors from rural areas are also taken on board to meet the requirement in Srinagar,” he said

On home quarantine, he pointed out that the possibility has been considered. “The possibility will be considered if a significant percentage of patients will turn asymptomatic. The stage has not come yet,” he said.

President Doctors Association of Kashmir Dr. Suhail Naik said health was never a priority for the successive governments.

“We haven’t seen any significant expansion for decades altogether. There is no doubt we lack human resources. We have a very adverse doctor: patients, nurse: patient and bed: population ratio. Pandemic has overburdened and overstretched health infrastructure and its associated human resources beyond limits,” he said.

Dr. Naik noted that when hospitals are overcrowded, it is time that patients with mild symptoms are put under home isolation.

“Such patients need twice daily SPO2 and temperature monitoring. The majority of them are going to recover with symptomatic treatment only and few among them who may progress to moderate or severe illness can be immediately shifted to dedicated COVID hospitals,” he said.

Dr. Naik pointed out that implementing such protocol will decongest level 1 and level 2 COVID Tertiary care hospitals

“Further, it will have a huge psychological win over the virus as people are always comfortable with home management of any illness. Right now, any febrile illness generates panic in any individual and or family as they feel COVID- has engulfed them,” he said.