Hospitals Cry for Help as Oxygen Crisis Continues in Delhi, Lt Guv Orders Action Plan

·5-min read

Battling an acute shortage of oxygen, some hospitals in Delhi on Sunday sent out desperate SOS calls to authorities to replenish their dwindling stocks, with one healthcare facility even requesting the government to shift out its patients. Madhukar Rainbow Children’s Hospital in Malviya Nagar on Sunday sounded an alarm about their depleting stocks around noon, saying 50 people, including four newborns, were “at risk”.

The hospital does not have a liquid oxygen storage tank and depends on oxygen cylinders from a private vendor. “It has become a daily fire-fight in the absence of a continuous supply. We require around 125 oxygen cylinders a day,” the official said.

The hospital said it received 20 oxygen cylinders around 1:30 pm with the help of government authorities. Aakash Healthcare in Dwarka appealed to government authorities to shift patients to other facilities so that they can be saved.

“CRY FOR HELP: Received only 5 #oxygen cylinders after running around the entire day, not more than 60 mins left to save lives of more than 250 patients,” a tweet posted from the hospital’s handle read. In the evening, Yateesh Wahaal, CEO of Vimhans Hospital in South Delhi, requested urgent support to save precious lives.

He said the hospital supplier has been changed as per a government order. The new supplier is refusing to supply and doesn’t have stock for next 7 days to meet our requirement. Around 135 patients are on oxygen support. Of these, 94 are in the ICU, he said. Sitaram Bhartia Institute of Science and Research also took to social media seeking help from authorities.

“Forty-five COVID patients admitted. Need liquid oxygen supply by 5 PM. Help!! it tweeted. At 6:10 pm, the hospital tweeted it received emergency oxygen cylinders that are expected to provide some air for 2-3 hours. Hanging by a thin thread. Need LMO on emergency basis.

The Hakim Abdul Hamid Centenary Hospital, where 110 patients are admitted, sounded an alarm about depleting oxygen supplies around 2 pm. “The city government is responsible for this situation. The supplies have become erratic ever since the government has taken over,” Dr Sunil Kohli, the head of the department of medicine, said.

A tanker carrying oxygen reached the facility around 6 pm. Dr Deepali Gupta from Triton Hospital in Kalkaji said they have been struggling to arrange oxygen for their neonatal intensive care unit. “We have been scrambling for oxygen for over a week. A major tragedy may occur if a continuous supply is not ensured soon,” she said.

An official of MD City Hospital in Model Town said lives of 140 patients were in danger due to irregular supply of oxygen. Around 4:30 pm, the hospital said it had exhausted its liquid medical oxygen stock and was using the back up.

There has been no update on the situation so far. Meanwhile, the BLK-Max Super Speciality Hospital announced the installation of an “oxygen generator and a high-pressure cylinder filling system which will provide around 15 per cent additional back-up to the existing medical oxygen demand at the hospital in the form of a continuous feed”.

Lt Governor Anil Baijal on Sunday asked departments concerned to furnish an action plan to address the shortage of hospital beds, medicines, medical oxygen as well as increasing the capacity of crematoriums and graveyards amid a surge in COVID cases in Delhi. The LG, who is in home isolation after testing positive for COVID 19, has also suggested employing services of recently retired doctors and para medical services to plug the gaps in the city’s health infrastructure.

“Hon’ble Lt Governor has sought further advise from concerned departments/agencies with regard to availability of key medicines, beds, medical oxygen & augmentation of capacities at crematoriums/grave yards, with the aim of addressing the ongoing problems being faced by people,” LG office said in a tweet from its official handle.

The LG has also asked the departments and agencies of the Delhi government to furnish quantifiable action plan that could be monitored while addressing the problems due to shortages. “He has asked for submission of a quantifiable action plan with monitorable time lines in this regard. HLG has also suggested that the possibility of reemploying recently retired Doctors and other para medical staff, where ever required, be looked into to address shortages,” the LG office said in another tweet.

On Saturday, 12 COVID-19 patients, including a senior doctor, had died at south Delhi’s Batra Hospital after the facility ran out of medical oxygen for around 80 minutes in the afternoon. The tragic incident occurred in less than two weeks of 20 coronavirus patients dying at Jaipur Golden Hospital and 25 at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital amid the oxygen crisis in the national capital.

Several hospitals in Delhi continue to grapple with a shortage of oxygen, as coronavirus cases continue to spike every passing day. The Delhi government has been demanding 976 metric tonnes of oxygen from the Centre against the existing allotted 490 MT quota.

On Friday, the city administration received just 312 MT, an official said. According to official data, Delhi had got 305 MT of oxygen on April 25, followed by 408 MT on April 26, 398 MT on April 27, 431 MT on April 28 and 409 MT on April 29. Delhi on Sunday recorded 407 COVID-19 deaths and over 20,000 cases with a positivity rate of 28.33 per cent, according to the latest health bulletin.

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