Among the institutions planning units which will have instead of multi-storeyed buildings, large lounge areas or parking lots, less than 200 beds in compact spaces are Fortis, Kauvery Hospitals and MGM Healthcare.
While Fortis Hospital will inaugurate a 250-bed facility at Vadapalani on Monday, the two other groups plan to open in the next three years at least four more hospitals, each with 150-200 beds, most of them single rooms. MGM and Kauvery also plan exclusive oncology centres with 100-150 beds each by mid-July 2021.
“Chennai is a big city. We can no longer have one hospital and expect people to travel there for treatment and follow-up care,” said Dr Aravindan Selvaraj, executive director of Alwarpet-based Kauvery Hospital that is looking at two units in south and central Chennai with 200 beds each.
Most administrators say 500-plus bed hospitals increase overhead cost and make treatment expensive. “Not all in-patients require tertiary care but end up being there more mostly because they don’t have an option. It increases out-of-pocket expenditure for patients too. Most of our hospitals will have adequate facilities for all ailments, but in case patients require a more specialised care, we will be able to transfer them without much delay,” Dr Aravindan said.
Some city hospitals are turning into referral centres for intensive care and organ transplants. MGM Healthcare on Nelson Manickam Road airlifted at least 20 critically-ill patients from Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka in the past 4-5 weeks. “At one point we had 15 patients on Ecmo including those with Covid-19. All were in isolation rooms that worked like intensive care units with round-the-clock one-to-one nursing and anaesthetist,” said senior cardiac anaesthetist Dr Suresh Rao.
While some underwent transplants, some others recovered. MGM Healthcare plans two hospitals in South Chennai – both of them half the size of the existing facility. “We will take treatment closer to people’s homes. These hospitals will also be centres of excellence and teaching hospitals for post graduates. It will cater to a much larger population and stays in these hospitals will be shorter,” said director Dr Prashanth Rajagopalan.
But some hospitals want to expand existing facilities to combine healthcare with medical education. The 400-bed SIMS hospital in Vadapalani is planning another 500-bed facility.