covid in Odisha: Odisha to have a Covid-19 hospital in each district

BHUBANESWAR: Odisha is racing to become the first state in the country to have a dedicated Covid19 healthcare facility in each of its 30 districts with a combined bed strength of 6000. It is expected to announce six new hospitals on Monday.

Less than a month ago, on 27 March Naveen Patnaik’s government signed two MoUs with city based hospitals, one with Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences and one with SUM Medical College for a combined 1000 dedicated beds. In less than ten days both the facilities, albeit set up in existing unused buildings, were declared ready.

State minister for health, Naba Kishore Das expects 36 Covid19 hospitals ready covering every single district before the end of the month. It is important to note that these facilities are being set up largely parallel to existing hospitals.

Patnaik’s government has been working round-the-clock to get the state’s healthcare infrastructure – that under normal circumstances leaves much to be desired – pandemic ready. As of Sunday Odisha had reported 61 positive cases but from just 10 districts. Most of these are from Khurda in which capital city Bhubaneswar is situated.

On Monday, the CM is expected to declare operational six new facilities in Angul, Bargarh, Jagatsinghpur, Nabrangpur and Sundargarh. Union minister for petroleum, Dharmendra Pradhan and the Das will also participate via video conferencing.

“About 20 Covid19 hospitals are already operational and five more are being dedicated tomorrow. By the end of this month we should have a hospital functional in every district,” Das told ET. He stressed on the fact that these would not be mere isolation centres, each district would also have at least 10-20 ventilators and oxygen supply. piped or through cylinders, to ensure treatment of patients with serious respiratory conditions.

Various models have been adapted: public private partnership, upgrading existing district hospitals and in some cases rushing steel companies to deliver on their long-pending commitments. The running of the first two Covid19 hospitals, at SUM and KIIMS, are being funded by Coal India’s Mahanadi Coal Ltd (MCL) and Orissa Mining Corporation respectively.

SUM will manage a 150 bed hospital housed in the newly constructed building of MCL’s Mahanadi Institute of Medical Sciences and Research in Talcher. The state miner is also extending its existing facilities at Lakhanpur area in Jharsuguda district.

The district, which is also the health minister’s constituency, has picked an old district headquarter hospital and converted it into a Covid19 hospital. According to reports, Vedanta which has its smelters there, has committed Rs 2 crores towards ventilators and other expenses.

At Kalinganagar in Jajpur, the 150 bed Tata Steel -Medica Hospital is for now a Covid19 hospital. While the steelmaker’s yet to be operationalised hospital at Sitalapalli near Berhampur has been equipped with beds, ICUs and ventilators. Nalco is sponsoring the 200 bed facility in Nabarangpur, Paradip port Trust is pitching in for 100 beds in the port town in Jagatsighpur.

The government’s farsighted move to be ready to tackle a community spread of the outbreak has been widely lauded. However, the challenges of trained manpower, or doctors, and a shortage of PPEs cannot be wished away said healthcare experts, speaking on condition of anonymity. Conscious of the fact, Odisha announced it would enlist final year MBBS students and called for retired doctors to volunteer. Walk-in interviews have added 600 pharmacist, 1000 laboratory technicians, 200 radiographers, 609 nurses. Another 1250 staff nurses for government medical hospital, 108 ayurveda and 66 homeopathy medical officers have been hired on short term basis. Of the 1040 MBBS graduates recently handed appointment letters, 1403 have joined work, said Das.

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