As the Covid care facility at the Radha Soami Satsang Beas Complex in Chhatarpur opened on Monday, families of patients who have not been able to get beds elsewhere for days flocked to the facility — only to find that the centre will not be taking in walk-in patients.
Officials asked patients to register by sending a WhatsApp message to the district numbers concerned, and were told they will get a call when their turn comes.
Among those who reached the facility was Pramod Kumar, an auto driver, who hoped to get his brother-in-law Kamal Kishor (50) admitted. Over the past three days, Pramod has been trying to navigate a crumbling system while ferrying Kamal in his auto.
After waiting for hours, the two turned around and went home. “There is no big government hospital that we have not tried… This was our last hope. We have tried private hospitals, even though we cannot afford those. If it comes to that, we will sell whatever we have just so we can get him admitted. But we need to get a bed somewhere,” said Pramod. Lok Nayak, GTB, RML and Rajiv Gandhi were among the few hospitals he visited since his brother-in-law fell sick.
Kamal’s Covid report came on Sunday evening and his oxygen levels are 74-75, with immense difficulty breathing.
Pramod said they took an ambulance earlier but since even those don’t have oxygen supply these days because of the paucity, he prefers to travel in his own vehicle. “Jijaji likes sitting in my auto because he gets fresh air,” he said.
They managed to get an oxygen cylinder for which they paid Rs 4,000. Normally, Pramod said, these cost Rs 500.
With 500 oxygen beds, the centre is 1,700 feet long and 700 feet wide and is manned by the Indo Tibetan Border Police. The first patient was admitted to the facility at 10.30 am. By evening, 110 patients had been admitted.
Only those patients referred by district surveillance officers (DSO) are being taken in. Patients can also call helpline numbers 011-26655547-49; 011-26655949 and 011-26655969. The helplines will send patient details to the DSOs. Patients have to provide their name, age, address, contact number, SpO2, pulse, and co-morbid conditions and other symptoms.
A spokesperson of the ITBP said, “Patients are being referred by District Surveillance Officers. Once they have been referred, it hardly takes any time. They reach the reception, from where they are taken to the ward.” Regarding critical patients who are not registered, the spokesperson said the admission process depends on the district authorities concerned.
As the day progressed, the lines grew longer and families waited without food or water. Many were unaware that they had to register and thought they would be admitted on a first come, first serve basis.
Virender from Pandav Nagar tried to get his wife admitted. The 45-year-old patient waited in an ambulance because her oxygen levels were low. “There is a lot of confusion. Someone tells us to call this number, someone says send a message. But even then, our name did not come,” said Virender. After four hours, he and his family headed to Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel Hospital in East Patel Nagar.
Tushar Rawat (23), who tried to get his father admitted, also left after waiting a few hours. His father, aged 53, whose oxygen levels were hovering around 81, has been unwell for the past 10 days. After turning their private vehicle around in the afternoon, the family decided to head to Lok Nayak Hospital to try their luck.
200 ICU beds to come up: CM
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal visited the centre in the morning and said 200 ICU beds will come up there soon.
“We are also trying to increase oxygen beds in Delhi. Today morning, I visited the centre that has been created at the Radha Soami Satsang Beas. It has started functioning as of 10 am today. There are 150 beds as of now; in the next two-three days, this will be pushed to 500 beds, then 2,000 beds, and finally 5,000 beds. We are also creating a 200 ICU-bed facility at the Centre. We are creating several such centres in Delhi and hope they aid the people of Delhi,” he said.
The ITBP spokesperson added that there are 500 available beds at the moment but the number will gradually increase in the coming days. There is no shortage of medical and paramedical staff, he added.
The facility was first opened in July last year and was increased to a capacity of over 10,000 beds. It was, however, dismantled in February, just as cases started to rise in Maharashtra.