GANGTOK: With 1,808 COVID-19 active cases and over 90 admitted in STNM Hospital alone, the super-specialty hospital has now added 115 COVID-19 beds on 8th and 9th floor of the main hospital under its COVID-19 section, as was done last year.

The two floors will account for 115 beds with 72 beds on the 9th floor, and private wards and cabins on the 8th floor, which were recently inaugurated by the Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay, will also be included for COVID-19 treatment.

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At present, the COVID-19 section of STNM Hospital accounts for 125 beds. With the addition on two more floors of the hospital, Sikkim will have 240 beds at its disposal for COVID-19 patients. Of the 240 beds, 144 are connected with oxygen supply, 76 of which are in the COVID-19 section, 8 in the ICU, 36 on the 9th floor and 24 on the 8th floor.

Furthermore, to keep the STNM Hospital and other non-COVID patients safe, the old STNM Hospital, currently being used as urban Public Health Centre, will take in all the OPD cases, Health Minister MK Sharma said. He was attending a meeting with Principal Secretary K. Sreenivasansulu, STNM Medical Superintendent KB Gurung and other doctors and nurses.

The meeting was called to discuss the preparedness of the STNM Hospital along with workforce concerns in the coming days.

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“The beds, oxygen supply and medicines are sufficient for the current patients but the workforce to handle the surge in cases in the coming days may not be sufficient. Hence, we will be welcoming more health care workers from the nearby Urban PHCs and even PHCs from Ranipool and Pakyong. More than doctors and nurses, the need is felt is for technicians and non-technical staffs. Medical officers, dental surgeons will all be included in the COVID-19 workforce in the coming days. A circular from the health department will be released on Monday on the same”, said Sharma.

While the health minister extended support to the healthcare workers, he said they won’t be allowed quarantine facility as part of national guidelines.

“It is not that those healthcare workers and doctors involved in COVID treatment will be immediately sent back home after completing their week long duty. They will be isolated in the hospital premises and we are working on ensuring the same. If they are quarantined for 14-28 days as before, the hospital will be overwhelmed. Most of them were vaccinated in a rush early this year to develop stronger immunity against COVID-19,” said Sharma.

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To avoid more patients from rushing to the hospital, Sharma said that only symptomatic cases will be admitted in hospitals while asymptomatic patients will remain in constant touch with doctors for consultation from their home isolation.

“We will take their co-morbidities into account and accordingly advise whether or not they must be admitted in the hospital. It is not necessary for patients to be admitted in the hospital as soon as they are tested positive. We have also cut short on elective surgeries and only emergency surgeries will be carried out from Monday. Such that non-COVID patients do not extend stay in hospitals and doctors are also not overworked.”

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