At least 500 doctors have been infected with Covid-19 across Maharashtra, data gathered by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has revealed. Officials said the actual count may be higher, since they only managed to keep a tab on cases reported by IMA members in Maharashtra.
The most infected are the resident doctors working in government hospitals. In Mumbai, while Sion hospital has 70 infected resident doctors, KEM hospital has 40 and Nair hospital has 35, according to the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors.
A senior ENT doctor, aged 61, succumbed to Covid-19 in SL Raheja hospital on Monday morning after battling the infection for a fortnight.
The surgeon had last operated upon a patient at Maru hospital in Parel in May. He fell ill in mid-May and tested positive for Covid-19 on May 19. The same day, he was admitted to SL Raheja hospital. Till then, he only had fever and cold. But he suffered from uncontrolled diabetes and had two cardiac stents. By May 23, he started feeling breathless.
“A scan showed he had developed acute respiratory distress syndrome. We put him on a ventilator, administered Tocilizumab. But by May 28, he suffered a renal shutdown and required dialysis,” said Dr Hiren Ambegaonkar, medical director in SL Raheja hospital and the surgeon’s batchmate.
The surgeon, a member of IMA, was put on ventilator and required intubation. On Monday morning, he passed away due to respiratory failure.
In another case, a general physician in Goregaon faced a 12-hour delay in getting admitted to a hospital. He died at SRV hospital in Chembur last week.
With Mumbai hospitals already running to their full capacity, in other districts, private hospitals have started reserving beds for doctors to provide them exclusive treatment facility if they contract Covid-19.
IMA, a doctor’s association with 75,000 members across the state, has started drawing up a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with hospitals to treat doctors infected with Covid-19.
In Ahmednagar, several Christian missionary hospitals have reserved beds for doctors following an MoU with the IMA. In Shrirampur taluka, Saint Luke’s hospital has reserved 20 beds for doctors, staffers and their family members.
“In the early days of the pandemic, a hospital superintendent in Ahmednagar was exposed to a Covid-19 patient and put under 14-day quarantine. He was in Quarantine in a madrasa with no doctor. The district collector asked him to look after all other people in the madrasa even though he himself was under quarantine. We realised that there is lack of facilities for doctors suffering from Covid-19,” said Dr Ravindra Kute, National coordinator, IMA.
In Mumbai, IMA president Dr Avinash Bhonde said that at least three practicing allopathic doctors have died in the city and one in Pune due to Covid-19. “The count is much higher, but we have not got names from the government,” he added.
Bhonde said that while a few private hospitals have agreed to reserve beds for doctors, in a few districts, collectors have refused to allow such a set-up.
In Nanded, over eight hospitals are in dialogue with IMA to reserve two beds each in intensive care units for doctors. “All private hospitals have given 80 per cent beds to the government. In the remaining beds that are under hospital control, we are trying to reserve a few beds for doctors,” said Dr Suresh Kadam, IMA member in Nanded.
In Nagpur and Nashik, too, private hospitals have reserved beds for medical practitioners. Ashoka hospital in Nashik has assured doctors that they will be given preference if they get infected, although it can’t reserve beds.
Dr Sameer Chandrate, based in Nashik, said just like government doctors are given health insurance by the state, private doctors must also be insured. “Even private doctors are getting infected,” he added.