THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Sources say the state may soon issue a work order to doctors and nurses in the non-Covid setting to join duty if the situation escalates. Efforts are also on to scrutinise the list of professionals registered in the Covid Brigade for deployment at Covid hosps
Efforts to scale up the public health system by district authorities to keep the Covid-19 mortality rate in check is facing major challenges with the hospitals grappling with an acute staff crunch. As per current estimates, Kerala is expected to hit the peak by the first week of October; the state is expecting cases between 5,000 and 8,000. A shortage of experienced staff nurses and doctors are plaguing containment efforts in the state capital. General Hospital (GH), the second-line treatment centre, has been upgraded into a dedicated Covid Care Hospital. However, the authorities are unable to ramp up the emergency infrastructure for treating Covid-19 patients because of inadequate staff.
According to sources, the state is thinking of pulling doctors and nurses from the non-Covid setting to tide over the human resource crisis. As of Wednesday, around 3,495 patients are under treatment at various hospitals in the district. Currently, category C patients with comorbidities are being treated at the General Hospital and when symptoms worsen, they are referred to the Medical College Hospital (MCH). “Emergency infrastructure requires ICU-trained staff nurses and doctors. At present, the caseload is manageable and we have around 150 ICU beds at MCH which is adequate to meet the current demand. If the caseload surges continuously, we may require emergency infrastructure at second-line treatment centres too,” said an official with GH. The official added that the district medical office (DMO) has to provide staff.
Currently, around 75 doctors are managing 300 beds at GH. “We need more doctors, staff nurses and cleaning staff. If we ramp up emergency infrastructure, we need well-trained human resources with multi-speciality expertise to manage. A minimum of 36 staff nurses will be required to cover all shifts a day,” said the official of General Hospital. There is a severe shortage of cleaning staff and a minimum of 30 people need to be recruited immediately at the General Hospital, the official added.
Recruitment from Covid Brigade
“The state may issue a work order to doctors and nurses in the non-Covid setting to join duty if a situation arises,” said a source. Also, efforts are on to scrutinise the list of doctors and other professionals registered in the Covid Brigade for deployment at Covid hospitals. “We will soon begin the procedure to recruit from the brigade pool,” an official said. According to authorities, though thousands of people have registered to join Covid Brigade, many are not ready to join immediately.
“We are giving ICU training to 300 to 500 doctors and staff nurses from the Covid Brigade. But the situation didn’t escalate as we anticipated. We expected a minimum of three per cent occupancy in ICUs daily but now the requirement is less than one per cent. Currently, recruitment drives are going on for CFLTCs in the state. If the situation demands, ICU training will be provided to more people,” an official said.
More second-line treatment centres
An official of the DMO said that efforts are on to add more second-line treatment centres in the district. “The home care programme is slowly catching up and this will reduce the number of people at hospitals. We will be taking over CSI MCH and SUT MCH for increasing the second-line treatment infrastructure,” said the official