At least 13 patients died at the Government Medical College and Hospital in Chenglapattu on Tuesday night. While relatives of the deceased claimed lack of oxygen was the reason for the deaths, the district administration denied the allegations.
The hospital, which is also treating Covid-19 infected patients, had 447 admissions on Tuesday night. At least 309 patients required oxygen support, sources told IndianExpress.com, adding that the requirement of oxygen was higher than other days.
Chengalpattu district, which has been reporting the most number of Covid-19 cases after Chennai, in Tamil Nadu, recorded 1,608 infections on Tuesday, taking its caseload to 86,265. The surge in cases has led to more people thronging district hospitals.
Sources said there was a brief period of oxygen scarcity in the hospital due to the high patient intake, but doctors immediately informed the management and oxygen was rationed among the ill.
Officials also denied there was oxygen scarcity at the hospital. District Collector John Lewis, who visited the hospital on Tuesday night to conduct an inquiry, told the press this morning, “There is capacity to hold 23,000 litres of oxygen, and per day, the consumption is 2,900 litres at full capacity. There are patients in 325 oxygen points; we are taking steps to provide an additional 72 points. There is no oxygen deficiency as is being reported.”
Chengalpattu Dean Muthukumar, also denying lack of oxygen, said the patients who died were in serious condition and had comorbidities.
However, doctors and healthcare workers staged a protest inside the hospital premises on Wednesday. According to local reports, they claimed the hospital was facing a shortage of oxygen. They also demanded additional staff to manage the workload. They said some of the doctors had been transferred to hospitals in other districts despite the scarcity on their campus. They claimed they were working extra hours due to the shortage of staff, and were experiencing physical and mental stress.