KATHMANDU, OCTOBER 5

Hospitals in Kathmandu valley have started facing a shortage of intensive care units.

with the rise in coronavirus cases in the country the number of people in the need of intensive care units is also on the rise.

According to the Ministry of Health and Population, 244 people have been admitted to intensive care units in health centers across the country.

Among those admitted to the ICU, 124 are in Bagmati Province, 47 in Province 5, 30 in Province 1, 17 in Province 2, 16 in Karnali Province, six in Gandaki Province, and four in Sudurpaschim Province.

It is not only ICUs, but people are also in the need of ventilators.

The health ministry’s data shows that 43 people are on ventilator support in health centers across the country.

There are 31 in Bagmati Province, six in Province 5, four in Province 1, and two in Province 2 that need ventilator support. Hospitals in Kathmandu have started facing shortages in terms of the number of beds in intensive care units as well as ventilators.

Suraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, a COVID -19 designated hospital in the valley has been facing a crunch in the number of ICU beds. The hospital has 20 beds in its ICU and six ventilator machines.

“We are not in a situation to admit any patient to the intensive care unit now. We are occupied.

All six ventilators are in use,” said Sagar Kumar Rajbhandari, director at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital.

People who are critically ill with underlying medical conditions are the ones who need intensive care units. “There is a need to admit patients who have severe pneumonia, those in the need of artificial life support and continuous oxygen in high amount to the ICU. They should be continuously monitored as they could need ventilator support.

Those who are above the age of 60, have chronic diseases such as kidney ailments, heart problems and/or if any of the body organs are not functioning properly then they need to be admitted to the intensive care unit along with ventilator support,” said Dr. Hem Raj Paneru, general secretary of Nepalese Society of Critical Care Medicine.

Though the intensive care unit is essential for the treatment of coronavirus patients, it is difficult for hospitals to make those available to patients.

All 18 beds in the intensive care unit of Patan Hospital is occupied. It has separated two beds in its ICU for hemodialysis for patients with COVID, which too is occupied. “It has already been five days that we have started facing a shortage of beds in the intensive care unit.

We have not been able to admit people referred from other hospitals as there are patients admitted to our hospital who are in the need of ICUs. We are shifting patients who need the ICU only when beds are vacant.

About 12 such people who are in the need of ICU are being treated outside the ward because we have no vacant beds in the ICU,” said Dr. Bimal Pandey, assistant professor at Patan Academy of Health Sciences. Doctors said the government had arranged several ICU beds in hospitals as the number of seriously ill patients is rising.

There should be a proper arrangement of an adequate number of ICU beds in Kathmandu valley as the number of infections is rising here. Along with the ICUs, we also need a proper team of skilled human resources to treat critical patients.

The government must manage all these,” said Dr. Paneru. According to the Ministry of Health and Population, there are 2,600 beds in intensive care units and 900 ventilators in health facilities across the country. Doctors in the valley have been saying that the number of ICU beds and ventilators are insufficient. Kedar Century, director at Bir Hospital, said, “We lack beds in the ICU as we need to treat both COVID and non-COVID patients. We need ICU for patients with kidney diseases and similar other critically ill patients.”

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