An experience in managing a COVID-19 situation at Bengaluru

An experience in managing a COVID-19 situation at Bengaluru

Covid-19 numbers are rising in Bengaluru. Contracting the virus puts an individual in a disarray. The stressed healthcare system and people trying to make a quick buck, worsens the situation for the infected person and their families.

Recently, one of my friends life toppled overnight. This post is a consolidation of the experience of a group of volunteers, who came together, in managing the situation.

It’s time consuming and extremely difficult to find the details and work out the options. Whatever we learnt – good, bad, and ugly – is documented here. Please feel free to use it and share it at will.

NOTE: The information provided in this document were accurate as on 14th July 2020. Do cross-check when you are using it. This is also not a medical advice & we are not doctors. Seek appropriate medical help.

This article is available as a document for download here.


1.    COVID-19 TESTING

Testing for Covid-19 is the 1st stage. If you suspect to have contracted the virus or showing symptoms, get yourself tested for Covid-19 (the swab test). Depending on the backlog and other conditions, report takes at least 24 hours (and sometimes even days).

Testing centres: Both Government and private centres are available for testing. If you can afford it in a private place (cost of testing is around Rs 4,700), suggest you opt for private places. They are better managed, clean, and relatively better safety protocols are in place compared to government institutions.

List of private testing centres in India.

  • Please call and check with the hospital before visiting.
  • Some allow walk-in and some require an appointment.
  • Many insist on a prescription from a general physician for suggesting Covid-19 testing.

Testing process: Protect yourself well with masks, PPE, and sanitizers when you visit the centres. You don’t want to catch the virus there.

You will get an SRF number (some have received via SMS) once they collect the sample. Please keep it safe. You will require this everywhere.


2.    COVID-19 TREATMENT

If tested positive for Covid-19, the hospital where you tested might suggest the next course of action. Depending on the patients’ condition, age, and other factors, they may suggest hospitalisation or home quarantine. If you didn’t receive any suggestion, then contact your physician or healthcare provider.

In this guide, we’ll cover the hospitalisation experience of a 65+ years old male with pre-existing conditions.

2.1.   Finding a Hospital

This is where our nightmare started. Given the load on the healthcare system in Bengaluru, it wasn’t easy to find any beds. Based on the patient condition, there are two viable routes:

  1. Hospitalisation but no ICU/ventilator requirements
  2. ICU/ventilator required for the patient

We started calling all big and famous hospitals one after the other in Bengaluru. We got one standard response. No beds for Covid-19 patients. Apparently, there are a fixed number of beds assigned for Covid-19 patients in the hospitals. Beyond that, they are refusing intake.

Don’t lose hope. It’s frustrating to face refusal every single time. Especially when a patient needs immediate medical intervention. Keep trying.

2.1.1.      Private Hospitals (Option #1)

Here is a list of private hospitals in Karnataka, treating Covid-19 patients. 

Keep trying this list. Get a group of volunteers. Split the list and each one keeps ringing the hospitals around.

Few tips:

  1. Tell the hospital you are ready to pay cash–then a bed might open (don’t pin your hopes on this strategy. Some hospitals genuinely don’t have a vacancy. But doesn’t harm to try the route in dire circumstance)
  2. If you go the cash route (not insurance), be ready to shell anywhere upwards of Rs 40,000/day (we got price quotes ranging from Rs 30,000 to Rs 60,000 per day)
  3. Keep SRF number and Aadhar details with you.

2.1.2.      Private Hospitals (Option #2)

[This is an unverified method. Heard it as we were struggling to find a bed]

Once the test results are confirmed, go approach BBMP in your ward. They will issue a certificate (not sure what they call it). With the certificate now you can approach private hospitals. Then, we heard that:

  1. The private hospitals cannot refuse beds/treatment
  2. Must limit the treatment costs to Rs 25,000/day.

2.1.3.      Government Hospitals (Option #3)

The bed allocation happens through the central Covid-19 helpline 1912. Register the details and the helpline staff coordinate for a bed in the government hospitals. Remember to collect the BU & SUF numbers. Everywhere they keep asking for this number, along with the SRF number.

Now you wait your turn for a bed to open. If the condition is serious, inform the 1912 helpline and request them to escalate the case.

2.2.   Transporting the patient to the hospital

If the patient is serious and needs an ambulance, call 108 and arrange for one. Depending on the rush you may have to wait for hours too.

Not every private hospital will transport Covid-19 patients in their ambulance. Please check with them, else dial 108.

If the patient condition is serious, do request for an ambulance with a ventilator.

2.3.   Treating Covid-19 patients

[We are not doctors. What follows is not medical advice. Just our experience]

If we must draw a difficulty map for hospitalisation & medical care, it’s like this.

Testing for Covid-19Moderate. Many centres are available to test. Might take a bit of waiting time though.
Home QuarantineStay at home and recover. Seek help if things are going downhill.
Hospitalisation w/o ICUModerate. If the big names are not admitting, try the smaller hospitals.
Hospitalisation with ICU & ventilatorHigh. Difficult as there is a shortage of ICU/ventilator and sadly the admission/treatment process is also hijacked by greed in many hospitals.

2.3.1.      What to do when ventilators are not available?

[Once again, we are not doctors. What follows is not medical advice. Just our experience]

Initially, we could only find a small hospital on the outskirts of Bengaluru to admit the senior citizen. The patient was on an external oxygen supply, but the condition deteriorated within two days. Since the hospital didn’t have ICU & ventilator facilities, they advised us to move the patient to a bigger facility with ICU.

This is when nightmare #2 started. It took us close to 15 hours to find a hospital with ICU & ventilator. All the while the patient was deteriorating. The process is same as in finding a hospital section. But, focus on the big hospitals first. The smaller ones (barring a few exceptions) rarely have ICU with ventilator facilities.

2.3.2.      Few tips

  1. BiPAP machine: When we were struggling for a ventilator, a pulmonologist suggested, BiPAP machine, as an interim solution. It may help tide over the situation until a ventilator is available. We didn’t get to use it. Consult your doctor first.
    1. BiPAP are easily available in Bengaluru on rent and for purchase (costs around Rs 63,000 plus taxes)
    1. But finding one on rent for Covid-19 patients is next to impossible
    1. Your best bet would be to check if the hospital has one, or buy one for yourselves
  • Touts: They are everywhere. Once the word spreads, you might get spurious calls. Though, it didn’t happen to us thankfully; we heard of stories of people being duped of money, in the name of getting a hospital bed. Be extra vigilant.
    • You may end up paying on-the-extra for the ambulance folks too.
  • Video calls: Once the patient is in the hospital, family and friends are strictly not allowed. This seems to be a standard protocol across hospitals. Might vary. The hospital where our patient is in, arranges for a video call twice a day – morning and evening. So, get data connectivity on your phone.
  • Stay Safe: Don’t ignore your safety amidst the running around. The last thing you want is to fall sick yourselves. Take adequate precautions when dealing with a Covid-19 positive patient. 

3.    USEFUL LINKS AND NUMBERS

3.1.   Private Testing Centers

DOWNLOAD
Covid-19 Testing Private Centers.pdf

3.2.   Private Hospitals for Treatment

DOWNLOAD
Covid-19 Private Hospitals .pdf

3.3.   BiPAP Machine

This model was available in Bengaluru as on 14th Jul 2020.

These are some dealers we came across during our quest. Please call them and check directly. Also, don’t forget to consult your doctor, if BiPAP is really solution in your case.

DEALERPHONE
Primer healer79757 08181
Apollo Homecare1800 102 8586
ResKart93536 40581
Saarans trading company91525 75284
Divine Medical Centre+91 80 2545 1143
Respicure medical systems+91 97420 83606

3.4.   Volunteers Groups

The volunteer angels are doing a selfless and tremendous service in these hard times. Spread your word to as many groups as possible. Here are a few volunteers we encountered. They will be your angels in scouting for beds in hospitals.

NAMEMOBILE
Sanjay / Covid-19 Sahaya Team88844 75500
Chandan / Covid-19 Sahaya Team97426 62664
Labour Helpline93333 33684
1912 / Covid Helpline94808 16113
Santosh92437 00405

3.5.   ICU at Home

[Untested service]. But we considered the option during our struggle. Not sure if & how it works for Covid-19.

SERVICEPHONEURL
Healthcare Home1800-102-4224https://hcah.in/icu-at-home/

3.6.   Other Resources

Try out every available channel. Some didn’t work when we accessed them. But they might have fixed it.

NAMELINK
Live ICU statushttps://iculive.in/
Portal for COVID+ Patients and Hospitals Trackinghttp://chbms.bbmpgov.in/
Help during Covid-19 swab test or for guidance14410 phone number Apthamitra Mobile App
BBMP support line080 2222 1286
1912 Covid Helpline94808 16113

—– END OF DOCUMENT —–

NOTE: The information provided in this document were accurate as on 14th July 2020. Do cross-check when you are using it. This is also not a medical advice & we are not doctors. Seek appropriate medical help.

This article is available as a document for download here.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. VISHWAJEET

    Well detailed article, very informative. Thanks for taking your time in publishing it.

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