But state public health authorities decided to translate the urgency into an opportunity to make the system robust by adding infrastructure and human resources. “The best thing is that we managed to uniformly distribute resources based on population and requirements. RT-PCR labs are now available across all districts,” said health secretary J Radhakrishnan.
Chennai medical college hospitals did not just increase number of beds. Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, which had nearly 2,900 beds in February, added another 1,000 beds in its new tower. “Most of them come with oxygen supply. We also managed to increase the number of bath attached single rooms. Many people who have so far not been admitted to government hospitals came here for treatment, said dean Dr Therani Rajan.
Stanley Medical College and Hospital, and Kilpauk Medical College and Hospital too ramped up infrastructure. The city also has 750 beds at the Institute of Ageing, most of them oxygen supported. “Our oxygen capacity has gone up by nearly five times. Besides installing large oxygen tanks and ports, we have portable cylinders at different points in all hospitals,” said director of medical education Dr R Narayanababu.
Almost all medical equipment including ventilators, scans, X-ray machines have been serviced. “In the beginning we serviced all our ventilators and purchased new ones. Although many were not put to use, we now have more than 2500 ventilators in government hospitals across the state,” he said.
The government also appointed more doctors, nurses and lab technicians. “The training they got was rigorous. They worked when hospitals were overflowing with patients and staff strength was maintained at two-thirds,” Dr Narayanababu said.