20 patients die in Jaipur Golden Hospital as Delhi’s desperate oxygen hunt continues

·5-min read

New Delhi, Apr 24 (PTI) Twenty people died at Delhi’s Jaipur Golden Hospital, their lives ebbing away as the hospital waited for oxygen to be replenished, officials said on Saturday, day five of a deepening crisis over the scarcity of oxygen vital to save critically ill Covid patients.

Every few hours, as it has been for the last days, hospitals across the national capital and its suburbs sent out desperate messages of help on social media and other platforms, flagging their dwindling stocks of oxygen. The Maharaja Agrasen Hospital approached the Delhi High Court.

A day after 25 patients died at the Ganga Ram Hospital, one of the city’s biggest and most high-profile health facilities, the court told the Delhi government to give it one instance of oxygen supply being obstructed and said, 'We will hang that man.” 'We will not spare anyone,' the bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli added while hearing Maharaja Agrasen Hospital’s plea over the shortage of oxygen for its seriously ill Covid patients.

At the Jaipur Golden Hospital in southwest Delhi’s Rohini locality, the worst fears came true.

'Oxygen pressure has dipped as we are running out of stock,' Medical Director D K Baluja told PTI as news came in of its 20 patients dying through the night.

He said the hospital has over 200 patients and at 10.45 am, only half-an-hour of oxygen was left.

Hospital officials added that over 80 per cent of the patients in the hospital were on oxygen support and 35 were in the ICU.

At Ganga Ram hospital, authorities struggled to avoid a repeat of the earlier day’s tragedy. The hospital requires a minimum of 11,000 cubic metres of oxygen daily but was left with just 200 cubic metres when a tanker with 1.5 tonnes of oxygen arrived at 11.35 am, officials said. 'Patients are suffering. We feel sad to see people bringing their oxygen cylinders . Hospital has and is approaching all authorities and nodal officers but no help is coming, Hundreds of calls made, nobody picking the calls,' hospital chairperson D S Rana said.

'We were running oxygen at half the normal pressure. This supply of 1.5 tonnes of oxygen will may be two hours. The situation is scary,' added a hospital official.

In a pincer effect, the shortage of oxygen and the explosion in the number of cases in Delhi have together stretched healthcare infrastructure to its absolute limits, leaving hospitals big and small struggling and coming up with band aid solutions – limited supplies to see them through for the next few hours before another SOS call.

Outside the hospitals, scenes of despair played out with queues of ambulances, frantic relatives and patients gasping for breath as they waited for help and hospitals, overwhelmed and helpless, tried to deal with the multiple emergencies at their doorstep.

The story was repeated in hospital after hospital.

“We have alerted patients we are low on oxygen. using back up now. Things are really uncertain. Haven't received a refill for the last 44 hours,' said P K Bhardwaj, medical director, Saroj Super Speciality Hospital, a mid-sized hospital in Rohini.

“We are advising them to shift to another hospital. The patients are aware that we have been trying our best,” he said, adding that it has been getting just one metric tonne of oxygen instead of the three it needs.

Batra Hospital in Tughlakabad Institutional Area received emergency oxygen supply from the Delhi government moments after it exhausted its stock, officials said.

Executive Director of the hospital, Sudhanshu Bankata, said the facility exhausted its oxygen stock around 9 am.

'We received an emergency supply from the Delhi government. It will last another one-and-a-half hours. Our supplier has not been responding to calls,' he said.

There are around 350 patients admitted in the hospital, of which 265 are COVID-19 positive and 30 are in the ICU.

The Fortis Hospital in Shalimar Bagh sent out a desperate appeal.

“#SOS Fortis Shalimar Bagh is running out of oxygen. Patients’ lives are at risk. We are running on backup, waiting for supplies since morning. We are currently suspending admissions. Request immediate assistance,” the hospital tweeted at 12.28 pm, tagging the Prime Minister’s Office and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal among others,.

“We are keeping patients and attendants informed of the critical situation and trying to manage admitted patients to the best of our abilities,” it added.

Moolchand Hospital, a big hospital in south Delhi, said at 7.05 am that it has less than two hours of oxygen suppl left.

“We are desperate have tried all the nodal officer numbers but unable to connect. Have over 135 COVID pts with many on life support,” it tweeted.

In a ripple effect, Max Hospital in Gurgaon said it too was running out of oxygen “SOS - Less than 2 hour's Oxygen supplies at Max Hospital Gurugram and attached Dedicated Covid Centre. Over 70 covid pts admitted across. Supplies expected at 10am diverted,” Max Healthcare said on Twitter at 11.20 am The medical director of Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, Suresh Kumar said the facility's oxygen stock can last up to eight hours. It is likely to be a few days before the crisis is resolved, he said.

Delhi logged 24,331 fresh COVID-19 cases and a record single-day jump of 348 deaths on Friday while the positivity rate stood at 32.43 per cent, according to the latest health bulletin. The high court on Saturday also asked the Centre when the 480 metric tonne (MT) of oxygen per day allocated for Delhi would see the light of the day.

The query came after the Delhi government said it was getting only 380 MT oxygen per day over the past few days and it received only around 300 MT on Friday. PTI GVS HMP MIN MIN MIN