Updated: April 22, 2021 7:04:36 am
The oxygen crisis in Delhi deepened on Wednesday as several private hospitals pleaded with the state and the central governments to immediately replenish their supplies to avert a tragedy. Top private hospitals in Delhi like Max, Fortis, Apollo, and Sir Ganga Ram reached out to the Delhi government regarding depleting oxygen supplies.
The crisis began to unfold after many hospitals complained that Linde India Limited, which supplies oxygen to Delhi from its plant in Faridabad, has been stopped by the Haryana government from supplying outside the state.
With over 300 Covid patients admitted, St. Stephen’s Hospital was the first to ring the alarm on Wednesday. Around 4 pm, the hospital said that it was left with oxygen supply to last until 8 pm.
In a letter to Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain, the director of the hospital wrote: “St Stephen’s Hospital is regularly procuring liquid oxygen and oxygen cylinders from Linde agencies, with their plant located in Faridabad, Haryana. The stock gets refilled on a daily basis. However, today at 2 pm we were informed by Linde agencies that their plant in Haryana is sealed and they are unable to supply oxygen to the hospital today. At present 300 Covid-19 patients are admitted in St Stephen’s Hospital who are on continuous high flow oxygen. The present stock will get over by 8 pm. We are pleading for your help to initiate appropriate action urgently and ensure supply of oxygen to the hospital within hours.”
The stock was ultimately replenished by 7 pm. “We have received the oxygen that may last till Thursday afternoon,” Dr Joseph told The Indian Express.
In a statement issued during the day, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, which has 370 beds for Covid-19 patients, said it was left with only 10-12 hours of oxygen supply.
“This level is dangerously low with supply chain disruptions and delays being witnessed over the past week. The continuation of this disrupted or delayed supply will have serious ramifications for our patients, especially the over 350 oxygen-dependent Covid-19 patients. We are working closely with the state and district administration, along with our suppliers, to improve the availability and timeliness of delivery. We strongly urge all the State Governments and the Centre to assist us in ensuring uninterrupted supply in order to avert any catastrophic patient-related incident,” managing director P Shivakumar said.
The hospital’s vice-president (operations) Dr Karan Thakur also wrote to Health Minister Jain: “Our suppliers are not able to give firm confirmation on the supply of oxygen at a scheduled time during the day. On the intervening night of April 20 and 21, the supply was interrupted due to the local administration’s intervention in Greater Noida. Both our suppliers M/S Inox and M/S Linde India are unable to provide us with adequate oxygen supply.”
At 4.15 pm, Sir Ganga Ram City Hospital was left with only five hours of oxygen supply. A dedicated hospital for Covid-19 patients, it has 58 patients out of which 10 were admitted in the ICU. There were 35 patients on the waiting list. The issue was resolved around 6 pm, when the hospital received 45 cylinders adding up to 7,000 litres of oxygen from Linde India.
Tuesday night too was spent in anxiety at several hospitals in Delhi, as they waited for oxygen tankers to arrive.
Dr Obed Hameed, medical superintendent at VIMHANS Hospital, told The Indian Express: “The oxygen tankers were expected to arrive at 9.30 pm on Tuesday. However, we kept waiting and the tankers reached the hospital at 4.30 am. The entire hospital and staff were in a panic mode, as we tried to arrange oxygen cylinders for the needy patients. Our nurses were giving manual ventilation to patients through an ambu bag while many other nursing homes pitched in to give their oxygen cylinders.”
The situation was serious at Max Shalimar Bagh too, which has over 250 Covid patients, most on oxygen support. The hospital administration claimed supply was disrupted on Tuesday night as an oxygen tanker was diverted to AIIMS.
“The oxygen tanker from INOX was on its way to refill the oxygen tanks at Max hospital Shalimar Bagh. It was diverted to AIIMS which led to a situation where the hospital’s oxygen tanks ran dry. Thus, we had a critical situation at the hospital and had to manage the patients on oxygen cylinders, which too were borrowed from other hospitals in the Max healthcare network,” wrote Col Harinder Chehal, senior director and COO (Cluster 2) at Max Healthcare Institute, to the Delhi Health Minister.
Saroj Super Speciality hospital in Delhi, which has a capacity of 140 beds, was able to admit only 119 patients till Wednesday morning. “Due to the scarcity of oxygen in the hospital, we are not taking patients who are in need of an ICU or oxygen support for the last two days. Almost all hospitals are facing the same situation. On Tuesday night, the oxygen supply which was supposed to reach at 1.30 am was received at 4.30 am. Those three hours were the toughest. If we use an oxygen cylinder in place of the liquid medical oxygen, then approximately 20 cylinders will finish in 15 minutes.”
No e-pass, says oxygen plant owner
A Delhi-based medical oxygen plant manufacturing firm Wednesday expressed dismay over non-issuance of adequate e-passes by the local administration, claiming it has hit its operations.
Siddharth Rastogi, owner of MVS Engineering, which has a factory in the Okhla industrial area, said applications for e-passes for around 45 workers of the firm have been rejected multiple times ever since the weekend curfew came into effect.
“We have been filing our applications with the south district administration, only to face rejections. And there is no clarity on the way forward either,” Rastogi told The Indian Express.
The firm, which has been around since 1977, has the capacity to produce 25 to 30 machines for production of medical oxygen per month. Each such machine, which can be installed within premises of hospitals, is capable of supplying medical oxygen to a 200-300 bed hospital.
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