Major Peshawar hospital refusing new virus patients after reaching full capacity

27 May 2020

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As of May 26, the province has reported a total of 8,259 cases and 416 deaths, which is the highest death toll reported in the country. — AFP
As of May 26, the province has reported a total of 8,259 cases and 416 deaths, which is the highest death toll reported in the country. — AFP

Hospitals in Peshawar are dealing with an influx of coronavirus patients which has left some health facilities in the province struggling to provide them and others with medical treatment, it emerged on Wednesday.

As of May 26, the province has reported a total of 8,259 cases and 416 deaths, which is the highest death toll reported in the country.

According to directives issued by the health department, only patients showing serious symptoms should be admitted to hospitals while those with mild symptoms should self-isolate at home.

Despite this, the Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC) administration said that they have had to stop admitting new coronavirus patients as they do not have enough beds at the moment.

Speaking to Dawn.com, a spokesman for the hospital administration said they had started referring patients to other hospitals.

They attributed the rise in the number of patients to plasma therapy being offered at the hospital for treating the respiratory illness; HMC is currently the only hospital in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which offers the experimental treatment.

"We are not accepting new or referred patients at the moment as we are facing a shortage of beds and other facilities," HMC spokesperson Toueed Zulfiqar told Dawn.com, adding that the hospital is currently focusing on catering to the needs of patients already under treatment.

According to Zulfiqar, the hospital has 90 beds in the isolation facility for Covid-19 patients, out of which 85 are already occupied.

"Beds are not a big issue, but we have to provide other facilities such as ventilators, oxygen etc.," Zulfiqar said, adding that the administration is trying to arrange more beds for the isolation facility.

"For the past two weeks our patient inflow has increased almost three to four times," Zulfiqar added. The spokesperson attributed the increase to patients specifically seeking out the hospital after it started plasma therapy.

According to a press release by HMC, 2,571 patients visited the hospital during the Eidul Fitr holidays.

"HMC is the only MTI hospital in KP and the number of patients has increased. Patients are also flocking to the facility for plasma therapy," the statement said.

It added that Covid-19 patients required one to two oxygen cylinders on a daily basis. "If there is a further increase in the number of patients, there may be a shortage of oxygen."

"Due to an overflow of patients, HMC cannot admit patients that have been referred to the facility," it added.

Meanwhile, Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) spokesperson Syeda Aliya said the hospital had two isolation units for Covid-19 patients with a total capacity of 55 beds, and a separate 30 beds reserved for staff.

She added that there are 40 patients including five staff members currently under treatment at KTH. "Out of 56 ventilators, 25 have been set aside for Covid-19 patients," she said.

Police Services Hospital Deputy Medical Superintendent Dr Aurangzeb said they had 30 beds for Covid-19 patients out of which only six were currently occupied.

"The remaining beds are for those patients who are showing serious symptoms," he added.

The Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) administration also said they were not facing a shortage of beds.

In a statement, LRH Dean Professor Abdul Latif Khan said only 32 out of the 220-bed coronavirus complex was currently occupied.

"Only 10 of these patients have tested positive for the virus while the remaining are suspected patients," he said, adding that 22 suspected and confirmed patients had also been admitted to the intensive care unit.

He said more beds can be allocated for critical patients if the need arises. He also urged doctors to cooperate with the hospital administration, adding that all precautionary measures for ensuring their safety were being taken.