Harnessing hotels as hospitals? Possible if the two forge close synergies: Ajay Bakaya

Ajay Bakaya, MD, Sarovar Hotels & Resorts exclusively speaks to Hotelier India and shares his opinion that a senior, competent two-man team needs to sit together and prepare for this transformation—one from each side—who can plan and execute everything necessary.

Transforming hotels into hospitals, Ajay Bakaya, Right protocols, Hotel infrastructure

The world is facing a pandemic that most of us have not experienced in our lifetimes. It is on its knees and struggling.

In these times of crisis, the nation and the community comes first. We are all for any solution that aims to alleviate the dire situation we are in, as a people.

To that extent, we fully support the move of harnessing hotel infrastructure for the much-wanted support and assist with the crumbling health infrastructure due to an unimaginable, unprecedented need.

Keeping this ethos in mind, I have to state it is not a magic wand solution. Hotels can’t become hospitals overnight. A concentrated thought process needs to be put in. A senior, competent two-man team needs to sit together and prepare for this transformation—one from each side—who can plan and execute everything necessary.

It’s not an ideal situation for either side. We need to hold hands and cross the hurdle together.

The pros and cons of using hotel infrastructure

The biggest pros are an immediate alleviation of much-needed stress on bed capacity and relief to caregivers, relief to COVID-affected patients. At this point, it is a desperate need and fervent hope of Delhiites and the government.

The cons are the hotel staff is not trained to address the special needs of not just any patient, but patients battling a highly infectious disease with a chance of fatality.

The hotel staff needs to be trained to protect themselves and everyone in their hotels while caring for the patients. Only if qualified and trained medical staff works in tandem with the hotel staff, will we achieve victory. And the victory goal cannot be compromised. We need to win the battle and the war.

We would also need well-crafted, well-documented and effectively-communicated protocol on the handling of patients who develop complications. We are not equipped for that, too.

We need to work together to engage our people to willingly accept this duty. They are worried and scared. Their families are scared. We have to overcome that hurdle together.

The right protocols

The protocols need to be worked out together, between the medical fraternity and the hotels. Now, almost overnight, 24/7. We would like to be an active part. We don’t know the field, but all parties must rush.

We do not see any issues cropping up, post-pandemic. People will remember the good deeds. And we’ll ensure 1000% sanitisation and safety. We’ll reassure our guests. That is a minor detail. We’ll move ahead smoothly.

Would every hotelier be able to contribute and help transform their property into a hospital? These are individual choices. The owners and investors may have their limitations and different opinions. They’re fully entitled to those.

To the extent possible, we must allow hotel owners to make that choice for themselves. We are not here to preach. On our side, as an organisation, we’d like to do everything to support our communities.

Not a business opportunity

We do not look at transforming hotels into hospitals temporarily as a business opportunity. We’ll run our hotels. Someone else will run their hospitals. We see this as our contribution to building national character, a nation that forges its energies together works for one another and builds a country with pride and with honour.

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