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May 6, 2020

Karachi’s seven COVID-19 treating hospitals have only 76 reserved ventilators altogether

Karachi

May 6, 2020

In Karachi, a city of around 20 million people, there are only 76 ventilators or intensive care unit (ICU) beds at the seven public and private hospitals for serious patients who require life-support after contracting the coronavirus, The News has learnt.

Similarly, there are only 321 isolation beds at these seven hospitals in the city, where patients with mild to moderate symptoms are kept and in case of deterioration in their condition, stable patients are removed from the ventilator and serious patients are put on life support, officials of the provincial health department and private hospitals said on Tuesday.

For people in other cities of Sindh, there are hardly 105 ventilators at specialised wards for COVID-19 patients, officials said, adding that there were only 181 ventilators for such patients in the entire province.

“Although the number of all the ventilators or ICU beds at public, private and charity hospitals in Karachi is 541 only seven of these hospitals are currently attending to COVID-19 patients. These hospitals have around 200 vents altogether, but for COVID-19 patients, the combined strength of vents is only 76,” an official of the health department told The News.

Health department officials said the seven hospitals -- Indus Hospital Karachi, Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK), Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), Ojha Campus of Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS), Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) and Dr Ziauddin Hospital -- are admitting serious patients, and, if required, they put critical patients on the ventilator.

Giving details of the COVID-19 isolation wards, the official said the Indus Hospital had a 20-bed isolation ward where 10 beds are equipped with ventilators, while the remaining 10 beds are high dependency unit (HDU) beds.

The SIUT said on Tuesday that they had a 50-bed isolation ward and a 10-bed COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) with ventilators, which remained full most of the time these days with coronavirus patients.

Karachi’s most prestigious private hospital, AKUH, which treated the first COVID-19 patient in the country in the last week of February this year, has a 56-bed Isolation ward, while it has eight ICU beds with ventilators, according to officials.

Sindh’s largest public sector hospital, Civil Hospital Karachi, has a 65-bed isolation ward while it has a 12-bed ICU equipped with ventilators, officials said, adding that in case of emergency half a dozen more ventilators could be spared for the critically sick patients at the CHK.

The Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), which bears the brunt of most of the serious patients in the province, has converted one of its ICU wards into COVID-19 isolation ward, where it has 12 ventilators while the remaining are HDU beds, officials said. They said that in case of urgency, the number of ventilators could be enhanced to 18 in the isolation ward.

The Ojha Campus of the DUHS, which also has been treating COVID-19 patients since the outbreak in Karachi, has a 50-bed isolation unit where they have 14 ventilators.

Dr Ziauddin University Hospital officials said they had a 20-bed isolation ward for COVID-19 patients and 10 beds were equipped with ventilators. They added that if required, they could spare as many as 20 more ventilators for coronavirus patients.

Vents removed

The Gadap Hospital is perhaps the only hospital in the world where nine ventilators were installed after the entire hospital was reserved for COVID-19 patients at the start of the outbreak in Sindh, but very soon, all the vents from the newly-established health facility were removed as there were no staff available to run the ventilators.

“The Indus Health Network (IHN) had procured nine ventilators, which were installed at the Gadap health facility, but as we failed to find trained intensivists and technicians to run these vents, they were removed from the hospital. Five of these ventilators were donated to the Indus Hospital Karachi while remaining four were given to the Civil Hospital Karachi,” an official of the health department said.

Vents in Sindh

Health department officials revealed that there were only 105 ventilators available at the COVID-19 isolation wards in different hospitals in other cities of Sindh.

“We have 18 ventilators at the Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences (LUMHS), 10 ventilators at Civil Hospital Khairpur, 14 ventilators at Nawabshah, only three ventilators at the Civil Hospital Sukkur,” a health department official maintained. He said that in Larkana there were 22 ventilators for COVID-19 patients, 20 ventilators at the Gambat Institute of Medical Sciences (GIMS), five ventilators in Kotri, eight ventilators in Sehwan, and only five vents at the Badin hospital managed by the Indus Health Network.

COVID-19 dashboard

When approached, a health department official said a dashboard was being created where the position of occupied versus vacant ICU beds and ventilators’ availability would be updated every six hours so that everyone was aware of the latest status. “Hopefully, this will take care of future unfortunate incidents of the sad demise of doctors due to lack of accurate information,” the official said.

— Infographic by Faraz Maqbool