Sports Tower at Gachibowli turns into COVID-19 isolation centre

Hyderabad: An abandoned multi-storeyed Sports Tower, which was constructed for 2007 World Military Games here, has been transformed into a makeshift hospital for COVID-19 patients in less than a month and the Telangana government plans to later upgrade it into a top-class healthcare and research facility.

The crisis triggered by the outbreak of coronavirus has added this new state-run healthcare facility in the city that is known as an important healthcare destination in the country.

Officials said the building was in bad shape due to lack of proper upkeep. The departments concerned worked day and night to transform the place by taking up the repairs and providing all necessary facilities. Now the building boasts of a top-class facility equipped with special wards, intensive care unit, state-of-the-art medical equipment including ventilators.

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Taking a cue from countries which converted stadiums and other infrastructure into hospitals to tackle Covid-19 pandemic, the state government transformed the 14-storeyed Sports Tower at Gachibowli Stadium, lying unused for over a decade, into the 1,500-bed facility.

As the Sports Tower, constructed for 2007 World Military Games, was lying unused for nearly 13 years, the Chandrashekhar Rao-led government came up with the idea of turning it into a hospital.

The building, located in the information technology hub of Gachibowli, has 540 rooms in 14 floors, a basement and a cellar.

After taking possession of the building from the Sports Ministry, the health authorities gave it a facelift with the best infrastructure and the state-of-the-art medical equipment.

“All this was done in less than 20 days,” said senior cabinet minister K. T. Rama Rao, who congratulated Health Minister Eatala Rajender and his team on a fabulous job of converting the sports tower into a hospital.

Initially, the hospital will be exclusively used for treating coronavirus patients and later it will be converted into a multi-speciality hospital with post-graduate institutions focused on providing medical services and research, he said.

With 750 general beds and 750 speciality beds, the makeshift hospital for COVID patients will be transformed into a full-fledged tertiary hospital after the COVID-19 crisis.

Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao announced that the government will allot 15 acres more to the health department to further develop and upgrade it into a major healthcare facility which will be called Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences (TIMS).

TIMS will be another major hospital in the public sector after Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS), Gandhi Hospital, Osmania Hospital, Institute of Preventive Medicine (IPM), popularly known as Fever Hospital, Chest Hospital and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Telangana at Bibinagar near Hyderabad.

While most of the existing healthcare centres in the public sector are located in the heart of the city catering to people from various parts of Greater Hyderabad, TIMS will be the first major public utility in western Hyderabad. Gachibowli and adjoining IT hub of HITEC City already houses leading private hospitals including the Asian Institute of Gastroenterology, Continental Hospital and Care Hospital.

It was in early 2000 that the then government of undivided Andhra Pradesh headed by Chandrababu Naidu had created world-class sports infrastructure at various places including Gachibowli. The city hosted 32nd National Games in 2002 and Afro-Asian Games the next year.

Sports Tower was built at a cost of nearly Rs 100 crore over 9.16 acres to house athletes during mega-events at the Gachibowli Stadium.

However, after the World Military Games, there was no major sports event and the infrastructure was lying unused. Various plans were considered to use the facility but could never be implemented.

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, authorities were scouting for a suitable place to build a make-shift hospital in case there is a spurt in COVID-19 cases. They zeroed in on Gachibowli as it is away from the residential areas and nearly on the city outskirts.

Since Sports Tower had a readymade infrastructure, they decided to turn it into a makeshift hospital.

Currently, all COVID-19 patients are being treated at Gandhi Hospital in the city while those with suspected COVID-19 symptoms have been kept at a few other hospitals.

With the addition of Gachibowli, Telangana now has 4,600 beds available at eight hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients who are at present total of 872 positive cases and 23 deaths.

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