Pune district heading towards medical catastrophe, says BJP MLA - The Hindu


Pune district heading towards medical catastrophe, says BJP MLA

Siddharth Shirole, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator from Pune, has alleged that both the State government and the Pune administration have failed to address the critical impart of shortage of ICU beds and ventilators in the district hospitals.

Warning that Pune was hurtling towards a medical catastrophe, Mr. Shirole sought the Centre’s intervention to ramp up the medical infrastructure.

In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, the MLA stressed that neither the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government nor the Pune administration had come up with any concrete plan to set up a 10,000-bed Covid care treatment centre.

“Pune city is days away from a medical cataclysm. Pune district is among the three highly-infected districts in the country. Yet, neither the administration has any foresight nor has the State government any political will to deal with the crisis,” he said, adding that the Chief Minister had not paid a single visit to the city to oversee the preparedness.

Mr. Shirole’s letter comes after a noted city-based scientist Dr. P. Lakshminarasimhan, recently retired from the Botanical Survey of India, died on Wednesday allegedly owing to lack of ICU beds at the State-run Sassoon General Hospital.

“Pune is currently facing a shortage of over 200 ICU and 100 ventilator beds. Several citizens, including a noted scientist [Dr. Lakshminarasimhan] have died as a result of not being able to get a bed on time. The administration is misleading citizens with data on bed availability while the State government has abandoned Pune’s citizens to fend for themselves,” said Mr. Shirole, stating that the purpose of his letter of appeal to the Centre was not to indulge in politics but to alert the State government of Pune’s dire situation.

He pointed out that the administration was banking on private hospitals which were sorely overstretched.

“With more and more private hospitals being requisitioned for Covid-19 purposes, non-Covid-19 illnesses and surgeries are being put on the backburner. This situation has arisen owing to a complete lack of planning on the administration’s part,” said the BJP MLA.

Pune district meanwhile, reported 1,300 cases on Friday, taking the total case tally to 46,276 with over 16,000 active cases. On Thursday, the district reported its highest single-day jump of 2,132 cases, with 1,210 of them from Pune city and more than 500 from Pimpri-Chinchwad.

Incidentally, Mr. Shirole’s disenchantment with the district administration was echoed by a section of the Pune Congress as well.

It was Ramesh Iyer, Pune city Congress general secretary and party spokesperson, who highlighted the pickle of Dr. Lakshminarasimhan’s family, as they scrambled from one end of the city to the other on July 14 graceful to lack of ICU beds.

“It is a total failure on part of the administration, which has been presenting a rosy picture of the availability of ICU beds for citizens,” said Mr. Iyer, remarking that the district administration’s repeated claims had proven hollow.

Dr. Lakshminarasimhan, who had developed breathlessness on Tuesday evening was first rushed to the city’s Sahyadri Hospital on Nagar Road.

“Why didn’t the hospital stabilise the patient first instead of dismissing the distraught family on grounds of lack of beds,” said Mr. Iyer, who, along with senior Congress leader Arvind Shinde filed a written complaint to the Divisional Commissioner.

Both Mr. Iyer and Mr. Shinde said that similar incidents had occurred in the past. On July 8, a 68-year-old diabetic patient Tanaji Dudhane, died as a result of not being able to secure an ICU bed on time.

“Pune city’s total case tally has already crossed the 30,000-mark and is expected to touch one lakh very soon, given the alarming surge of nearly 1,200 cases daily. The bitter reality is that there is a shortage of oxygen beds and ventilators, whatever the officials may say. It is being observed that there is a hesitation on part of hospitals to admit patients in the night, precisely the time when he or she needs urgent attention,” Mr. Shinde said, adding that often, patients with symptoms were not being tested on time.

Mr. Iyer said that it was imperative for the administration to improve their coordination with the medical fraternity by taking epidemiologists, interventionists and pathologists into confidence and accordingly prepare beds in advance in keeping with the expected spike in cases in July and August.

The Pune civic body has issued show cause notice to 25 private hospitals for not correctly displaying bed management information on the dashboard.

Deputy Chief Minister and Pune Guardian Minister Ajit Pawar also urged the administration to ensure that patients received treatment on time.

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