The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has begun work on expanding the capacity of its Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Covid Hospital in Delhi Cantonment to deal with an unprecedented surge in coronavirus infections in the capital, DRDO officials said on Monday.
This comes a day after the government announced that the Capital will get hundreds of more intensive care unit (ICU) beds for Covid-19 patients, testing for the coronavirus will be doubled, and doctors from central paramilitary forces will be flown in.
The 1,000-bed DRDO medical facility will get 250 additional ICU beds by Friday to provide treatment to patients who are seriously ill, said one of the officials cited above asking not to be named. This will take the total number of ICU beds at the hospital to 500 though the total capacity of the centre, spread over 25,000 square metres will stay the same.
The hospital — built by DRDO in record time of 12 days with assistance from the armed forces, ministry of home affairs, ministry of health and family welfare and Tata Trust — became operational in July and has so far treated and discharged 2,500 people. More than 400 patients are currently being treated at the hospital whose ICU centre is almost full, said a second official.
The doubling of the ICU beds will increase the requirement of doctors and paramedics at the hospital.
“The medical centre currently has around 150 doctors and paramedic. We will need an additional medical staff of around 100 people. This will be provided by the Armed Forces Medical Services and the Central Reserve Police Force,” said a third official, adding that the hospital also plans to get dialysis machines.
The ICU ward in the hospital has been named after Col B Santosh Babu and two other medical wards have been named after Naib Subedar Mandeep Singh and Naib Subedar Satnam Singh to honour the memory of brave hearts killed in action in the June 15 Galwan Valley clash with the People’s Liberation Army in eastern Ladakh.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal described the lack of ICU beds as the “biggest challenge” in the fight against Covid-19 at a high-level meeting on Sunday. The meeting was chaired by Union home minister Amit Shah and attendees included Kejriwal, the health ministers of the Centre as well as the state, Delhi’s lieutenant governor and top officials from Niti Aayog, Indian Council of Medical Research and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
In a presentation, Niti Aayog’s VK Paul described Delhi’s situation as “unprecedented” and “likely to become worse.”
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