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No oxygen: East Delhi hospital halts admissions, discharges some patients

A few families managed to get oxygen cylinders from plants in Rohini and rushed to the hospital while others tried to speak to doctors.

Written by Jignasa Sinha | New Delhi |
April 23, 2021 1:17:28 am
A notice outisde Shanti Mukand hospital. By 7 pm, an oxygen tanker arrived at the hospital. (Express photo: Jignasa Sinha)

With hardly two hours of oxygen supply left on Thursday, doctors and staff at East Delhi’s Shanti Mukand Hospital scrambled to get cylinders from oxygen suppliers, hospitals, and appealed to police and authorities.

By 11 am, the hospital put up signs outside the gate and main building saying they are “stopping admission” due to no oxygen supply. Around 12.30 pm, officials sent an SOS to Delhi government officials stating it has run out of oxygen and will be “forced” to discharge patients.

Breaking down while speaking to the media, hospital CEO Sunil Saggar said: “At present, we have around 110 Covid patients admitted, serious cancer and cardiac patients requiring a high flow of oxygen. There are 12 patients who are on ventilator… We get supplies from Inox but they have refused to meet our demand. We have been left with oxygen which may not last more than two hours. If we are not supplied liquid oxygen of about 2,300 kg immediately, we will be left with no option but to discharge our patients and we may lose precious lives…”

Soon after his statement, kin waiting outside made frantic calls to friends and other hospitals to get a bed or an oxygen cylinder. Some families alleged doctors asked patients in the non-ICU ward to leave.

Among them was Mohd Mutahir, a resident of Darya Ganj, who visited at least five hospitals after doctors told him they will run out of oxygen soon. He said, “My uncle Farman has Covid and was admitted here six days ago, but doctors asked him to leave or get an oxygen cylinder. My aunt is admitted at Khatija Nursing Home and can’t come here. How do I arrange a hospital bed? I have been trying to persuade doctors since morning but nobody is listening to us. I tried Max Hospital, Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty, Metro Hospital, and GTB. There are no beds… I hope they don’t make us leave.”

A few families managed to get oxygen cylinders from plants in Rohini and rushed to the hospital while others tried to speak to doctors.

Suresh Kumar (50) said he waited at the hospital for an hour to get his son Arun (30) admitted but in vain. “I don’t know where to go. My son has difficulty breathing. We are trying other hospitals but they are not letting us in. Arun was admitted at Rajiv Gandhi hospital but doctors discharged him after they ran out of oxygen… Why can’t the government help us when we need them the most?” said Kumar.

Around 4.40 pm, a man in his 70s on oxygen support was discharged from the hospital. His family, who didn’t wish to be named, said, “We are leaving. There’s no oxygen here.”

Khushboo, whose father Vishnu Verma (52) is at the hospital, said: “The CEO and doctors are scaring us. They have reduced concentration of oxygen supply. My father, who has Covid, was admitted here nine days ago… he is critical. Families are getting calls from doctors to remove the patients… we are worried… will we be next?” Her father works at All India Radio.

A senior doctor at the hospital told The Indian Express, “We last received liquid oxygen on Wednesday morning but that was just 1,500 kg. Our daily requirement is over 2,300 kg. We haven’t discharged a Covid patient but the situation is bad.”

By evening, though, the hospital was forced to discharge seven patients. However, tragedy was averted after police approached Inox and created a “green corridor” from Modi Nagar to Karkardooma to transport oxygen. “A green corridor was created by Delhi and UP Police and the tanker reached our hospital by 7.40 pm,” said Saggar.

While doctors are relieved, they said the struggle will resume if they don’t get constant supply.

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