At Ground Zero, it’s not all hunky-dory

At Ground Zero, it’s not all hunky-doryMARGAOAs the battle against Coronavirusreached a crucial stage, with no daypassing without deaths and caseshovering around 250-300 a day onan average, one question that haskept coming to haunt health careworkers and citizens alike is: Whyhad the government zeroed in on theESI hospital at Margao to house adedicated COVID hospital instead ofutilizing many a spacious premisesin the GMC complex, Bambolim orbuildings owned by the Directorate ofHealth Services?This question assumes significanceon two counts – one, against thebackdrop of the fact that the COVIDhospital is presently almost full andsaturated, with healthcare workersgrappling with the task of arrangingspace for patients in the wake of risingcases. And second, more important-ly, the government had gone aboutrequisitioning the ESI hospital as adedicated COVID hospital despitebeing aware of the the fact that thehospital has been designed and builtto cater to the needs of 100 patientsat a time.This brings to the fore anothercrucial point, whether the governmenthad misjudged the emerging situa-tion, leaving healthcare workers withno option but to stretch the hospital’scapacity to 220 beds and openingCOVID care centres elsewhere to ac-commodate asymptomatic patients.At the time of requisition, the100-bedded ESI hospital remained un-der-utilized for want of staff and man-power, with the bed capacity peggedat around 58 beds. Then, when thegovernment decided to requisition theESI hospital, it was initially plannedto put to use the entire 100-beddedcapacity, with beds available with theESI hospital and requisitioned fromthe South Goa district hospital.However, when things showedsigns of going out of control and thebed-capacity under strain, the admin-istration moved in again to raise thebed-capacity to 150 beds and eventu-ally to the present 220-bed capacity.This raises a serious question, wheth-er the government was content inmanaging the emerging situation witha 220-bed hospital when the COVIDsituation in Mangor and Vasco wentout of control. And, why around thetime when cases spiralled in Mangorand Vasco, did the health departmentnot move with speed to look out fora spacious premises in the North tocater to the people of North Goa.It’s not out of place to mention herethat the healthcare workers, manningthe COVID hospital, right from doctorsdown to the housekeeping staff havebeen clear in saying the governmentshould look out for another dedicatedhospital given the increasing workloadand manpower constraints. It’s alsonot uncommon to hear to hear storiesof how a lone Multi Task staff servesfood to patients in a ward solo, orjust two nurses drafted to look afteras many as 60 patients in the COVIDhospital.Even Revenue officials, from thegrade II officers at the top down to theMamlatdar, talathis and BLOs, havebeen stretched to the limit in the fightagainst COVID on the frontlines. Sincethe time migrants were repatriated totheir native States by the Railways, theofficials were often found questioningwhy the government did not go in for asecond COVID hospital, preferably inNorth Goa and share the work load.A senior doctor attached to theCOVID hospital in private says thegovernment had never shown its read-iness to go in for a second hospitaland appeared content in augmentingthe bed capacity at the ESI hospital.Why did govt zero inon the ESI hospital?This question assumes signifi-cance on two counts ...ONE: Against the backdrop of thefact that the COVID hospital is pres-ently almost full and saturated,with healthcare workers grapplingwith the task of arranging space forpatients in the wake of rising casesTWO: The government had goneabout requisitioning the ESI hospi-tal as a dedicated COVID hospitaldespite being aware of the thefact that the hospital has beendesigned and built to cater to theneeds of 100 patients at a time
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