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In medicare hub, 45 percent critical care Covid beds cannot be used due to oxygen crisis

Jalandhar burdened with a rush of patients from other districts, states taking up 50 per cent of beds.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar |
Updated: April 26, 2021 5:08:48 am
In medicare hub, 45 percent critical care Covid beds cannot be used due to oxygen crisisAmid surge in COVID-19 infections, Centre on Sunday directed the states to ensure that the use of liquid oxygen is not allowed for any non-medical purpose. (Pavan Khengre)

Punjab’s Jalandhar district, which is known for having the highest number of hospitals in the entire region, is not in a position to use 45 per cent of its available Covid beds in Level-2 and Level-3 facilities due to oxygen shortage, health authorities revealed Sunday.

To add to the woes of healthcare workers, a major oxygen plant in the district — with capacity of 2,200 cylinders daily — crashed Sunday and was not operational till filing of this report.

Further, Jalandhar has also been burdened with rush of patients from outside with those from neighbouring districts and states taking up 50 per cent of occupied Covid beds in the private hospitals.

On Sunday, the district administration decided to cut oxygen supply to neighbouring districts and to non-Covid patients to 5 MT from 9 MT. The decision was taken after a review that showed that while Air Saturation Units (ASUs) in the city produced 29 MT of oxygen, it had consumed 36.6 MT (30.7 MT for Covid patients) till Sunday afternoon amid a scramble for Liquid Medical Oxygen.

The shortage of oxygen, sources said, means that 45 per cent available beds in L-2, L-3 facilities (746 out of 1,634) have been rendered useless. This will also affect the neighbouring districts like Kapurthala, where there is no Level-3 hospital for Covid patients and all their critical patients are referred to Jalandhar.

Jalandhar has around 500 private medical centres of varying super specialities and expertise for a city with a population of around 21.9 lakh (as per 2011 census). It is at number one position in Asia in highest per capita density of nursing homes.

Out of 1,634 Covid beds with oxygen supply in Jalandhar ,1,198 beds are in Level-2, while 436 beds in Level-3 facility as per the records
of Civil Hospital, Jalandhar. Jalandhar Civil Hospital has around 340 beds, including 284 in L-2 and 56 in L-3.

As per government’s norm the oxygen supply to the states is calculated at the rate of 10 litres per minute oxygen supply to the patients in Level-2 and 24 litres oxygen supply per minute to the patients in Level-3.

Jalandhar Deputy Commissioner Ghanshyam Thori said: “We have 50 patients from other states including Delhi, UP, Himachal etc. and scores from Punjab’s other districts. Yesterday, we were to get 18 MT of liquid oxygen, but we could get only 10 MT. We are mostly dependent on Jalandhar-based ASUs and our hospitals cannot take in more patients from other states despite having facility because of shortage of oxygen.

“Also we have prepared the chart of availability of the oxygen and supplied to the private hospitals so that they can admit patients as per the availability Of oxygen to them in the coming days,” he said.

The DC added: “We have decided that if 2,200 cylinders are produced here then only 300 cylinders will be given to other districts and remaining will be supplied to Jalandhar’s hospitals where the number of Covid patients is more due to 50 per cent admission of outside patients in the private hospitals.” He revealed that 50 police constables sit outside the oxygen plant to ensure supply is not diverted.

Even after deferring elective surgeries due to pandemic, the district has to supply around 2 MT oxygen to the hospitals where the emergency trauma or neonatal cases come and around 3 MT to outside for similar purposes.

Akshat Bahndhari, the owner of the Shakti Cryogenics Oxygen plant, which is one of the largest plants in the state with a capacity of producing 2,200 cylinders daily through ASU, said that no liquid oxygen is available to them to compress and fill in the cylinders as entire production is based on atmospheric air. He said that their plant crashed Sunday and it will not be able to resume operations before late night. “It will affect the supply badly in the district and neighbouring districts in such a crisis,” he said.

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