Odisha to build two 500-bed COVID hospitals in Bhubaneswar

Published : March 26, 2020 22:01 IST

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik strikes a bell to show gratitude to the medical practitioners, paramedical staff and helpers working relentlessly to fight coronavirus during the Janata curfew, in Bhubaneswar on March 22. Photo: PTI

A day after rushing to recruit a large number of doctors and paramedical staff to fight COVID-19, the Odisha government announced its decision to build two hospitals in Bhubaneswar for treatment of coronavirus patients. The government signed MoUs with two of the leading private medical colleges in the State—Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) and the SUM Hospital—for the creation of two hospitals with 500 beds each exclusively for COVID-19 patients, and they are to be ready within a fortnight. They will be established away from existing hospitals in order to minimise the chance of transmission to others.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has also directed the setting up of similar facilities for COVID-19 cases in other areas of the State. “I congratulate the partners and thank the corporates for coming forward and working in synergy in the interest of the people of the State,” said Patnaik, who is overseeing the State’s response teams comprising inter-ministerial groups, top bureaucrats, health care experts and police officials. While one tripartite agreement was between the State government, KIMS and the Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC), the other was between the State government, SUM Hospital and Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL).

Odisha is the first State in the country to plan facilities for COVID-19 treatment on such a large scale to handle a possible rush of patients. “The announcement for the hospitals with a capacity of 1,000 beds has been made keeping an unprecedented situation in mind. Some people are questioning us as to why we are unnecessarily pressing the panic button. In five developed countries, the infection ranges between 38,000 and 81,000. We have to stay prepared,” said Subroto Bagchi, the State’s chief spokesperson on COVID-19.

Odisha has only two coronavirus positive cases in the total of 164 samples that have been tested so far. Sensing that the existing health workforce would fall short in the event of community spread, the government has issued advertisements for engaging additional number of qualified specialists, doctors, and staff nurses and other paramedics to serve the people on short-term contract for a period of three months.

To keep the health workforce enthused, the government has also announced that it would pay four months’ salary in advance to all doctors, nurses and paramedical staff in appreciation of the risk being taken by them to fight the pandemic.

Informed sources said the government was trying to double the existing number of beds with ventilator facility in government hospitals to deal with COVID-19 patients.

The State has recorded the arrival of 4,249 persons from other countries. About 30 of them have been kept under observation in different hospitals, while the others are being monitored in home quarantine. A team of seven doctors has been engaged to monitor their well-being on a regular basis. Penal action has also been initiated against some foreign returnees who were found to have violated the home quarantine protocol.

In order to expand isolation bed capacity, the government has set up isolation camps in all 6,798 gram panchayats in the State. School buildings have been notified as prospective isolation facilities. In urban areas, the government is looking at using the large number of hostel rooms in engineering colleges which were shut earlier this month.

In order to ensure strict home quarantine, the State government has come up with the idea of pasting stickers on the homes of those who have been placed under home quarantine. The sticker mentions the duration of home quarantine and details of the house and family too. Clear instructions should be given to the community for no one to visit the home. The government has made it clear that home quarantine does not mean social boycotting.

To keep medicines stocks ready during the time of crisis, the Odisha State Medical Corporation has declared incentives for early delivery of medicines and medical equipment, such as 50 per cent extra money for delivery in seven days, 25 per cent extra for delivery in 15 days and 10 per cent extra for delivery in 30 days. Full cost of transportation along with full payment within 24 hours of delivery has been assured.

Ever since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, more than 78,000 inter-State migrant workers have returned to their homes. They have been advised to follow home isolation protocols. Panchayat representatives have been asked to keep a tab on them.

The government has come up with dozens of notifications, such as on ensuring smooth transportation of essential commodities, setting up of helpline numbers to address COVID-19 confusion on the ground, and releasing advance assistance under different welfare schemes.

After Patnaik himself led the efforts of raising funds for fighting COVID-19 by donating three months of his salary, the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund is steadily receiving donations from corporates and individuals.

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