Private hospitals in Delhi grapple with limited oxygen supply for COVID-19 patients

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New Delhi, Apr 22 (PTI) Several private hospitals in Delhi struggled to replenish their oxygen supply for coronavirus patients for the third consecutive day on Thursday, and requested the city government to transfer them to other healthcare facilities.

While some of these hospitals have been able to make short-term arrangements, there is no immediate end to the crisis in sight, a government official said.

In a letter to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said six private hospitals had exhausted their oxygen supply by Thursday evening. These include Rathi Hospital, Santom Hospital, Saroj Super Specialty Hospital, Shanti Mukund, Tirath Ram Shah Hospital and UK Nursing Home.

Sir Ganga Ram Hospital sent an SOS to the government, saying there was only five hours of oxygen left at the healthcare facility at 8 PM.

'Oxygen in store is for five hours for peripheral use till 1 am and less for high flow use. Need urgent oxygen supplies,' an official said.

There are 510 COVID-19 patients, including 142 on high-flow oxygen support, admitted in the central Delhi hospital.

The administration at Shanti Mukund Hospital, a 200-bed facility in East Delhi, even put up a notice at the entry gate, reading: 'We regret we are stopping admission in hospital because oxygen supply isn't coming.' A hospital official said their oxygen supplier could not be contacted.

'There are 110 coronavirus patients in the hospital. We have no option but to send patients to other hospitals,' he said.

In the afternoon, officials at Saroj Hospital in Rohini said they had run out of oxygen.

'The backup, too, won't last long. Of the 120 patients in the hospital at present, 70 are in a critical condition,' an official said, adding that many lives will be lost if oxygen supply did not reach the hospital in time.

Dr Sanjeev Sharma, chief operating officer at the Delhi Heart and Lung Institute, said the facility had only six hours of oxygen left at 10 pm.

'Supply from Faridabad has been blocked, but the vendor has committed to giving us more oxygen tonight,' he said, adding that 71 patients are on O2 support.

Officials at the 210-bed Mata Chanan Devi Hospital sent an SOS to the Delhi government as their 'oxygen supplier didn't fulfil commitments'.

'Around 40 patients are in ICU. We got 500 kg oxygen last night. The supplier was supposed to give more at 4 am, but they have not been picking up calls since then,' ICU Head Dr A C Shukla said.

'With the Delhi government's intervention, we have got 21 D-type cylinders, but a continuous supply is needed. The situation is very serious,' he added.

Meanwhile, some hospitals received fresh stock overnight and more is likely to come in soon.

Dr Suresh Kumar, the medical director at the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, said three tankers carrying oxygen reached the facility last night.

Officials at the Burari Hospital said they have 'sufficient stock' to last till afternoon.

A spokesperson of St Stephen's Hospital said they received fresh supply on Wednesday evening. 'More will come around noon,' he added.

Sisodia alleged the Uttar Pradesh and Haryana police were blocking oxygen transport to Delhi and urged the Centre to ensure normal supply even if that meant taking the help of paramilitary forces.

This 'jungle raj' has been going on for three days, he said referring to the alleged blocking of oxygen supply.

'Some hospitals in Delhi have run out of oxygen completely. They don't have any option available. I have been receiving calls, messages, e-mails. We have been making internal, makeshift arrangements, but this cannot continue for long,' he said.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the Delhi government is making efforts to airlift its enhanced quota of oxygen supply from Odisha.

He also urged the Centre and the Haryana government to facilitate the 'smooth passage' of vehicles carrying medical oxygen to Delhi. PTI GVS DIV DIV