Availability of beds for COVID patients

Almost everything is influenced, if not wholly determined, by the forces of demand and supply, in other words – the resources available which always generally are scare and the utility from and burden on such resources being generally much more , is only an established fact. Until a few days back , the UT of Jammu and Kashmir had been comfortable in respect of availability of beds along with the required facilities and the load of patients with a surplus or all available beds not occupied which , of course, was inversely related to how many infected patients cumulatively arrived at various hospitals. The position, however, having altogether changed since the last three to four days in that an unprecedentedsurge in the number of patients reported almost from all parts of the UT has put tremendous strain on the existing and almost regularly supplemented infrastructure including in the GMC Hospitals , SKIMS Soura Kashmir and other hospitals. Though there is no cause of panic, yet the alarming surge despite imposition by the authorities of nonstop COVID curfew for over a week now across the UT, is putting in place, achain of “creating” additional beds and the arrival of more occupants. Since almost on daily basis, the data on important parameters of the management of COVID patients is being compiled by the Health and Medical Education authorities as also by the district and other concerned authorities , stock of the situation as on daily basis in respect of the Government run and private hospitals is taken to help the administration in making the necessary arrangements. We do not draw any pessimist notes but there are more and more cases that recover and are discharged from the hospitals which again create some availability of beds. However, the position as at present is not the one which could be a cause of concern as in the CD Hospital and other COVID designated hospitals have beds available putting at rest any type of speculations or apprehensions . However, a capacity of 1325 oxygen support beds in Jammu division is going to be provided within five days as recently directed by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha. Having highlighted the levels of preparedness of the UT administration and all other positive sides of the situation, the fact of the matter is and as through these columns we have highlighted that a few coming weeks are most critical and as even the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister has cautioned that the chances of the virus getting mutated further cannot be underestimated. While admitting that the ferocity of the second wave of corona-virus in the country was not predicted, his note of caution should be taken as an implied advice to go in for a proper planning and mobilising of necessary required resources to meet the challenge of more and more patients lining up for getting admitted in hospitals. We feel that there being dearth of availability of physicians’ consultations to the affected ones in whichever form and manner during the initial days of the contracting of disease at many places, there could be numerous cases which could be treated at homes under conditions of self quarantine with proper medication and the load on beds which are otherwise required for the ones genuinely requiring, would be considerably reduced. Second step required to be taken is creating makeshift or temporary hospitals like last year to cope up with the increasing case loads as the ones created were dismantled following vast improvement and virtual flattening of the COVID curve. Retired medical staff could be requisitioned on temporary basis to look after the patients in such make shift or temporary hospitals. Since cautionary measures vastly declined following the first wave getting halted , as a natural corollary , opportunities for new infections arose hence the second wave . Increasing immunity levels through vaccinations and other ways , awareness about the perils of disobeying cautionary protocol and large scale preparedness by mopping more resources even at the cost of other developmental projects alone, could make much difference and in overcoming the great threat .