None of the critically ill Covid-19 patients who were put on ventilator at Guru Nanak Dev Hospital of Government Medical College in Amritsar since the pandemic outbreak could survive, with the health care facility authorities blaming the deaths on extremely late arrival of patients there. As of Saturday morning, the hospital had reported 21 such deaths.
The GMC at Amritsar is a referral center where critically ill Covid-19 patients from eight districts of Punjab are being shifted.
Sujata Sharma, principal, GMC Amritsar, confirmed as much. “As of now, no patient has survived after being shifted on ventilator. All the Covid-19 deaths at Guru Nanak Dev Hospital have happened on ventilator. Most of the patients, when they arrived here, were already in very critical condition,” Sharma told the Indian Express.
So far, Amritsar has reported maximum Covid-19 positive cases (613, as of Sunday), and maximum number of deaths too.
Medical superintendent of the college, Dr Raman said that a total of 967 patients were admitted at GMC till Saturday morning. “We couldn’t save 21 of them. A total of 60 patients have been put on oxygen support till date,” said Dr. Raman.
In layman’s terms, a ventilator is a critical medical equipment that delivers air and oxygen into the lungs of the patients who suffer extreme lung damage or struggle to breathe. One of the symptoms of the novel coronavirus disease is breathlessness.
Sharma said that GMC is getting patients from eight districts in Punjab. “Patients have been referred to us by the private hospitals at almost irreversible stage. Some of them were already on ventilator before being referred to the GMC. Some patients died within hours of being shifted to ventilator here. The death rate at the hospital appears to be high only because the cases arrived here very late,” Sharma said, adding that “different studies have shown that mortality rate after being shifted to ventilator is 98 to 100 per cent all over the world.”
Incidentally, the doctors at the GMC saved the lives of two patients, who were not shifted to ventilator despite being in critical condition.
“We saved at least two lives by delaying putting them on ventilator. They both had come to us in critical condition. There is theory doing rounds in the medical circle that we should delay, as much as possible, putting a patient on ventilator,” said Sharma.
She added, “It is not that we have to delay ventilation in every case. However, it is our observation that when (Covid-19) patients are on ventilator, they don’t survive.”
The pressure on GMC Amritsar has also exposed the public health services in the Majha region of Punjab.
There are three ventilators in Pathankot but none have been used for Covid-19 patients till date even as the patients from the districts were shifted to Amritsar.
“We have three ventilators at Medical College Chintpurni. But these are not in use because we don’t have trained staff. We have been shifting our critical patients to GMC Amritsar. We, however, have 500 beds ready for Covid-19 patients and enough supply of oxygen,” said a senior official at Pathankot Civil Hospital.
Similarly, Gurdaspur has six ventilators, but none of them been used.
“We have four ventilators in Gurdaspur city and two at Batala. We have trained some of the staff to use these ventilators. So far we have not got any patient, who was required to be put on ventilator. If situation arises, we can take help of private hospitals to run the ventilators. We have more than 1,000 beds ready for Covid-19 patients,” said Dr Kishan ChandCivil Surgeon, Gurdaspur.
Incidentally, one of three Covid deaths reported on Sunday was from Pathankot. As of Sunday, Punjab had recorded a total 3,140 Covid-19 positive cases, of which 2,356 have been cured , 717 are active cases while 67 have died. One patient is critical and on ventilator support while 14 are on oxygen support, as per the government bulletin.
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