Gujarat: Venue for iconic business meets now a Covid hospital

Sources told The Indian Express that the civil hospital authorities were more than eager to shed off some of their burden to the new facility and start catering to the huge number of non-Covid patients coming to it from across the district.

Mahatma Mandir, a venue for iconic business congregation Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit in Gandhinagar that has hosted several foreign dignitaries, including former United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki Moon, former US secretary of state John Kerry and World Bank former president Jim Yong Kim, is all set to be converted into a 900-bed Covid hospital.

A joint collaboration of the state government and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), and funded by the Tata Trust, the DRDO facility is currently awaiting a nod from the state government’s core committee on Covid, presided over by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, to start admitting patients, Collector Kuldeep Arya told The Indian Express.

Once operational, all Covid patients coming to Gandhinagar will be directly admitted to the DRDO Covid hospital at Mahatma Mandir which is likely to take the load off GMERS civil hospital that is currently treating the bulk of Covid patients from across the district.

“Preparations are complete and we are ready to admit patients. The DRDO facility will serve as an extension of GMERS Gandhinagar civil hospital, and its medical staff has been deployed at Mahatma Mandir Covid Hospital,” Arya said.

Four hundred beds are reserved for Covid-19 patients at the GMERS civil hospital. Of these, 350 are currently occupied. At least 200 non-Covid patients are also undergoing treatment at the civil hospital, the collector added.

Until Wednesday, Gandhinagar reported 20,390 positive cases and 199 fatalities.

When the reporter visited the Mahatma Mandir facility on Wednesday, GMERS civil hospital staff were seen busy running from one point to another to ensure the right material reaches the right place even as contractual workers unloaded and carried equipment to their location.

Sources told The Indian Express that the civil hospital authorities were more than eager to shed off some of their burden to the new facility and start catering to the huge number of non-Covid patients coming to it from across the district. A “delay” in starting operations at the DRDO facility, they claimed, was likely due to an ongoing process of appointment of medical, paramedical and supporting staff to run the facility.

Spread across four major halls with an area of 12,000 square metres, the Covid facility covers nearly all the entire area of the Mahatma Mandir Convention and Exhibition Centre, which is also connected to Dandi Kutir (Salt Mount) Museum through a bridge, barring its main convention hall.

“Within 15 days of taking it over, the work (at the Covid facility) from our side was 100 per cent complete. All 900 oxygen beds are ready. The only point is refilling of an oxygen tank that can sustain for a day for all 900 beds, including ICU ward,” a senior DRDO official at the site said.

The 100-bed general ward 1 has come up at the photo gallery area next to the main convention centre while the general ward 2, with 162 beds, has come up at the exhibition hall number 3 and is right beside the main convention centre. General ward 3, with a bed capacity of 392, has been built in exhibition hall 1 and the 225 ICU beds have come up at exhibition hall 2.

Initially, the DRDO’s covid facility was set to come up at Gandhinagar’s helipad in sector 17. An announcement was also made by Union Home Minister Amit Shah during his visit to the DRDO-Gujarat University Dhanvantari Covid Hospital on April 23. However, due to several issues arising at the helipad site, Mahatma Mandir was shortlisted and approved by the DRDO and state government.

“The hangers at the helipad did not have a permanent air-conditioner system. There were other issues like sewage system, power back-up system among other infrastructure issues,” the DRDO official, who did not wish to be named, said.

The Mahatma Mandir Covid Hospital claims to have “carried out minimum modification” in the available infrastructure at the convention centre. Partitions in the centrally air-conditioned halls have been made out of rapid fabrication technique with 12 mm particle board and an aluminium framework.

“It has separate green zones for doctors and medical staff with changing room facilities, toilets, cafeteria, 21-bed triage area with a facility of ventilators, a 24×7 power back-up system, 56 KL liquid medical oxygen station has been installed near gate number 6 and nursing cubicles in-wall wards. Ventilators are provided at 225 ICU beds, including 175 from PM Cares Fund,” Dr Kundan Patel, the assistant resident medical officer of Mahatma Mandir Covid Hospital, told The Indian Express.

A state government property, Mahatma Mandir is managed by Gandhinagar Railway and Urban Development Corporation Limited (GARUD), which is a joint venture company (JVC) incorporated on January 5, 2017, between the Government of Gujarat and Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Limited (IRSDCL).

“Also, a third private partner in this JVC is The Leela Group. While the Gandhinagar Civil Hospital will run Mahatma Mandir Covid hospital, the basic civil and electrical engineering work on the site including CCTV cameras and electrification work has been carried out by GARUD,” the Gandhinagar collector said.

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