Kerala's COVID hospital rises in Kasaragod hamlet, but where are the doctors?

Kerala's dedicated COVID hospital rises in Kasaragod hamlet, but where are the doctors?
Kerala's first dedicated COVID-19 hospital in Kasaragod.

Kasaragod: A 551-bed COVID hospital built by the Tata Group in Kerala's Kasaragod district started operation on Wednesday. The state government is set to develop the facility further and recruit the requisite number of healthcare personnel.

Senior health officials said it would take at least three months for the Rs 60 crore hospital to be working in full swing with operation theatres and intensive care units.

Currently, only two doctors are stationed here though 40 posts were created. On Sunday, the government authorities said recruitment to the 191 posts was in progress.

The hospital built exclusively to handle COVID cases is located at Thekkil Village. 

Initially planned as a quarantine and isolation centre (something the government badly needed when the project was announced on April 9), it was later repurposed to become a hospital when Covid cases soared and patients - even active cases - were finally allowed to undergo quarantine in their own homes.

The structure, which is made of 128 disconnected shipping containers across 2 acres, was not intended as a working hospital, a health official observed. It does not have a centralised oxygen supply line, nor are there power points by the bedsides.

Also, the disconnected areas mean that it requires more workforce to manage and oversee.

More work still remains for this project. But the Tata Group’s contract extended to just the handover of the structure which it did early last month. The state government will be responsible for all the facilities and arrangements for the functioning of the hospital – from getting the beds to recruiting doctors and other staff. Its maintenance too will be taken care of by the government.

With Kerala reporting 8,790 new COVID cases after 66,980 tests on Wednesday, the number of active cases in the state rose to 93,264. Twenty-seven deaths too were reported, taking the overall death toll from COVID to 1,403.

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