BMC officials said they have begun to deploy more Class III staffers to help patients get beds and ICU beds, contacts of testing laboratories, ambulances and other Covid queries.
The BMC’s local ward-level war rooms had helped lakhs of Covid patients since they were set up last year. Now as there is a surge in cases, they are overwhelmed with calls and there are several complaints that they do not respond on time. As mayor Kishori Pednekar said, all calls must be attended immediately and patients and kin must be given a response. The ward war room is a most critical mechanism in the Covid battle. It must be strengthened.
“We are adding around 120 staffers who will work in three shifts. The war room operates 24×7 and so people have to be deployed for all shifts. We are deploying clerical staff who are experienced since they respond better and guide patients and their relatives,” said a civic official.
The 24 ward war rooms already have a mix of BMC school teachers, doctors, engineers and local staff from the ward who take calls and help patients get a bed at a nearest hospital. Out of the 8,000 calls per day, the 1916 helpline gets around 5,000 calls and war rooms 3,000-odd.
The BMC’s local ward-level war rooms had helped lakhs of Covid patients last year, said civic officials. In the initial days of the pandemic, there were several complaints that Covid patients were not getting beds.
BMC chief I S Chahal then created a war room in each of the 24 wards and said any admission to a hospital will happen only through the war room which had to ensure asymptomatic patients don’t occupy beds and stay in quarantine. BMC officials said they resolved the bed crisis, thanks to the war rooms.
“We are already operating at maximum capacity. Around 120 staffers will be added and they will join soon. Our staff responds to people and then directs them to hospitals. Many calls are for ambulances and RT-PCR tests. Regardless of the reasons, we respond to all,” said Mahesh Narvekar of the BMC’s disaster management unit.
Mayor Kishori Pednekar visited the ward war room at Dahisar on Monday and asked the staffers to answer every call. “These ward war rooms are for Mumbaikars and you must pick up every call and respond to them. I called the Dahisar ward war room but I got a response after two-three calls. People should get a response in the first call. Action will be taken if there is any delay,” she said.