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  Coronavirus Response

Healthcare
Published on: June 4, 2020, 8:17 a.m.
Nilkamal produces beds for Covid-19 patients
  • Fowler's bed with isolation. Inset: Ajay Agarwal

By Sumit Ghoshal. Contributing Editor, Business India

Every day the media is full of stories about thousands of beds being needed for the ever-increasing number of Covid-19 patients and that the beds in existing hospitals would soon be unable to cope with the demand.

Administrative authorities in various cities are examining the possibility of utilising every kind of open space – the Dome of the National Sports Club of India, the MMRDA grounds in Mumbai, and even (at one stage) the Wankhede Stadium!

With the passage of weeks it is also clear that the largest number of Covid positive subjects require nothing more than isolation or quarantine for the mandatory period of two weeks. Unlike the really serious patients with major breathing problems, who need ICU care in a proper hospital, the majority only needs to be kept separate from the general population, including family members, office colleagues, etc.

To cater to these requirements, Nilkamal Ltd, a long-standing leader in plastic molded furniture, has now entered a new line of products – Quarantine and Isolation Beds of various designs and even plastic partitions for facilities such as classrooms and office canteens. The two concepts when put together are playing a critical role in serving large swathes of the general populace.

The simplest design is that of a Quarantine Bed, which has a steel frame and a surface of a special plastic material known as Bubble Guard. It is fitted with an intravenous infusion stand for some patients who might in a dehydrated state and a frame to accommodate an oxygen cylinder. The second part is intended to serve the few patients who could feel short of breath temporarily. Oxygen administration through a face mask is the accepted remedy for these patients.

Then there is the Isolation Bed, which is the same Quarantine Bed, fitted with an overall plastic cover on all sides including the top. Thus it looks very similar to the bed-nets used by millions of people all over Asia to protect themselves from mosquitoes. Another variety is a modified version of the Fowler’s Bed seen in many regular hospitals. Patients of heart disease or breathing difficulties associated with other medical conditions often find their discomfort getting worse if they lie flat on the back. All hospitals, therefore, have a specially designed bed, the head side of which can be raised, so that the patient can sleep in a half-sitting position. This is known as a Fowler’s Bed.

Now since it is widely known that one of the most important symptoms of Covid-19 is breathlessness, it stands to reason that they would benefit from a Fowler’s Bed. This may not always be available in the makeshift hospitals that administrations everywhere have in mind. The Nilkamal offering meets this need without much difficulty. These beds are also fitted with a saline infusion stand and space for an oxygen cylinder.

 

Even more convenient is that when not being used, the basic Quarantine Beds can be stacked one on top of the other along with the mattresses, in piles of 12-15 units. This also means a massive space saving when the hospital is being set up, dismantled, or even being shifted elsewhere.

While explaining all these designs, Nilkamal’s vice-president operations, Ajay Agarwal says that they have already supplied 1,000 Covid Quarantine Beds, mattresses, and other furniture to MMRDA for the latter’s makeshift emergency hospital which was set up in a record time of two weeks. In addition, they have supplied another 2,500 beds of different designs to other health authorities in various parts of the country. “We have now scaled up our capacity to about 150 beds per week,” he added.

Apart from the hospital beds, Nilkamal has a range of products known as VirusGuard which serves as a partition to separate the seating spaces in office or school canteens, classrooms, etc. They may also be used to enable “social distancing” in city buses or even airplanes.

While this range of beds and partitions may have opened up a brand new revenue stream for the company, Agarwal accepts that they may not be able to recoup the losses in their traditional business in the next few quarters.


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