Written by Aditi Raja | Vadodara | Published: June 20, 2020 10:23:21 pm
If one goes by the figures of the occupied beds on the dashboard, the VMC’s daily medical bulletin seems to be grossly under-reporting either the active cases in the city and the deaths that have occurred due to the virus. (Representational)
The Covid-19 dashboard of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC), which displays the availability of hospital beds, has raised questions about the figures being declared in the city’s official daily medical bulletin. The dashboard, which aims to make access for citizens easy with regard to the number of vacant beds in various government and private hospitals empanelled to offer Covid treatment, indicates that as many as 196 of the total 267 ICU Covid-19 beds are occupied in the city. This is in complete contrast to the VMC’s official statistics of 37 active cases in the ICU.
If one goes by the figures of the occupied beds on the dashboard, the VMC’s daily medical bulletin seems to be grossly under-reporting either the active cases in the city and the deaths that have occurred due to the virus.
As per the official medical bulletin in Vadodara on June 20, the total active Covid-19 cases are 590 with 109 patients on oxygen (O2) support and 37 patients on ventilator or Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP) support. The bulletin also indicated that 40 persons were discharged in the immediate preceding 24 hours before Saturday. The figures on June 19 were not very different with 587 active cases, of which 103 were on O2 and 35 on ventilator or BiPAP. A day earlier on June 18, however, the bulletin showed 52 people on ventilator or BiPAP support.
However, the dashboard, which breaks down the availability of 1,396 Covid-19 beds into three categories of ICU beds (ventilator and BiPAP), beds with O2 supply and mildly symptomatic case bed, tells a different story. As per the dashboard which is frequently updated, the number of active cases on Saturday stood at 612 with a total of 196 ICU beds occupied (ventilator and BiPAP), and a whopping 252 beds with O2 support occupied against the bulletin figure of 103. A total of 164 beds are occupied by mildly symptomatic positive patients. according to the dashboard, and 71 ICU beds are available across the hospitals empanelled and 222 beds with O2 supply are vacant, along with 406 general beds for mildly symptomatic cases.
Officials of government hospitals said they are not aware about the discrepancy in the figures. A deeper look into the breakup of the beds in individual hospitals indicates that ICU beds in government-run free facilities, as well as the private hospitals offering critical healthcare for beneficiaries of Mukhyamantri Amrutam Yojana, are running full with only four of the 102 ICU beds available across seven hospitals of this category. This includes civic-run SSG hospital, where all 16 ICU beds are occupied, as are all 50 ICU beds in Gujarat Medical Education Research Society-run (GMERS) Gotri Medical college. The other dedicated Covid hospitals are also running at full occupancy with their ICU beds, such as Muslim Medical Centre (5), Dhiraj Hospital (21 out of 22) and Parul Sevashram (6 out of 9). Popular private empanelled hospitals have a similar case, such as Bhailal Amin General Hospital has only two of its 14 ICU beds available, while Jupiter Hospital (6), Rythm Heart Institute (11), Savita Hospital (25), Shukan (10) and Spandan (11) are fully occupied. The breakup of 252 occupied O2 beds is also similar across the segments.
A top officer in charge of the admissions at various hospitals said that of the 196 occupied ICU beds, about 70 are those with critical ventilator support while the rest are patients on non-invasive BiPAP. According to the official, the total occupancy also indicates admissions to hospitals in Vadodara of Covid-19 cases from other districts of central Gujarat, namely Panchmahals, Dahod, Chhota Udepur and Narmada. “The number of outside admissiosns, however, is not more than 15,” he said.
This raises questions on the figures put out by the VMC in its daily medical bulletin, which seems to suggest that only 37 patients on an average are on ventilator or BiPAP support. The total number of active cases on the VMC’s daily bulletin also includes the positive patients who subsequently died, but have not yet been declared dead in the official toll due to a pending death audit. This week, the VMC has declared three more deaths concluded as being due to “comorbidities”, taking the death toll to 50.
VMC health officer, Dr Devesh Patel says, “The deaths that are under audit are counted as active cases till the time we have concluded the primary cause of death.” When asked about the mismatch in the numbers on the bulletin and the dashboard, Patel said, “We have also noticed the discrepancy. We will look into it.”
Incidentally, the VMC first launched the dashboard with the ICU beds category sub-divided into beds with Ventilator support and beds without Ventilators until Friday evening –the figures reflecting as 71 occupied ventilator support beds and 118 ICU beds without ventilator support. The number of occupied O2 beds remained at 250. But on Saturday, the civic body
reorganised its dashboard to club the two ICU categories, leaving it to the citizens to delve into the detailed list of hospitals that have been divided as Segment 1 and Segment 2 to figure out the hospitals having ICU beds with ventilators.
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