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March 26, 2020 Thursday 07:04:00 PM IST

COVID-19 -Solutions Emerging to Meet Shortage of Hospital Beds

Silas Camargo Silao for

As the havoc created by the outbreak of Covid-19 rages on, our medical professionals face problems that are much beyond their capacities. They don’t have enough materials to protect themselves from the virus, and the shortage of infrastructure raises more concerns about how they will be able to deal with the pandemic in the days to come. As a way to help, Asset Homes, a construction and building company based in Kochi, has come up with an initiative to help our medical warriors.
They have proposed the idea to assemble one crore isolation beds, in railway train coaches across the country, that too in a week’s time, in case the outbreak goes out of hand. They wish to provide this service free of cost, as a service.  With the suspension of the train services across the country, the train compartments are readily available. They estimate that two trains parked in the stations can be utilised, Since, each train can have upto 1000 beds, they hope to serve 2000 people at the same time. Railways stations can be the ideal location, because the public can easily locate them.
Another great suggestion, proposed by an architect working with MIT, shipping containers could be set up as mobile hospitals to meet the urgent need of medical facilities to tackle this outbreak. Under plans drawn by the MITian architect, the containers can be turned into mobile intensive care units (ICU). The containers can be equipped with necessary facilities to take care of those in need of intensive care. These units can be built in a short period of time, which is the need of the hour as most hospitals are overwhelmed with patients who need these services and there is a shortage of intensive care facilities.
In London, an Exhibition Centre is being turned into a facility to take care of the patients with Covid-19. The initiative is supported by the World Economic Forum Covid-19 Action Platform and Cities Infrastructure and Urban Services Platform.  The facility will have 4000 beds, ventilators and oxygen. An innovation and design firm, Carlo Ratti Associati has teamed up with MIT and a host of engineers, medical equipment suppliers and other experts, to design the facility.

Such innovative ideas can hugely assist to reduce the strain on our healthcare systems across the world and help speed up the process of recovery for severely ill patients. Even if 10 per cent of the country’s population of 133 crore is affected by the virus, 10 crore beds would be required. As per 2011 Census, WHO estimated India had only 0.7 beds per 1,000 people. While India has targeted to increase this to two beds, WHO mandates for at least 3 beds per 1000 in the country.
In a letter sent to the Prime Minister and the authorities of the National Disaster Management Authority, Sunil Kumar V, Managing Director, Asset Homes, said that Indian Railways has 12,617 trains with 24-30 coaches on each train. “We can convert a train into a hospital by simple alterations, which can accommodate a consultation room, medical store, a minimum of 1,000 beds per train, one ICU, and a pantry. Toilet facilities are also available. We can create a minimum of one crore beds within no time,” he said.
Other Methods
-Kerala Government has already taken up closed hospitals and sanitised them for use in treatment and isolation of Covic-19 patients
-Some colleges, schools and private buildings have been identified for converting them into isolation centres for treatment
-Resorts and hotels closed after Covid-19 outbreak can be converted into treatment centres
-Old unused buses can also be converted to make shift treatment facilities.


Supriya Deepak

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