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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Erratic supply, increasing demand cause oxygen crisis at Pune, Pimpri hospitals

A day after its jumbo Covid facility and some small private hospitals were faced with oxygen shortage, the PCMC on Wednesday said the issue had eased late on Tuesday and steps were being taken to meet the requirements.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas , Manoj Dattatreya More, Ajay Jadhav | Pune |
Updated: April 22, 2021 2:49:02 am
Sassoon General Hospital, Oxygen, Pune covid-19, Pune coronavirus cases, Pune oxygen supply, Pune news, indian expressOxygen room at the Covid Centre (COVID-19 Block) in Sassoon hospital on Wednesday. (Express photo by Arul Horizon)

Faced with the issue of erratic oxygen supply over the past two to three days, several hospitals in Pune are unable to meet the increasing demand of medical oxygen for treating Covid-19 patients. Some private hospitals in PMC areas have even stopped admitting patients for treatment while some smaller facilities are moving their patients to other hospitals.

Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol has also called for an audit of the oxygen supply system in each hospital to ensure that an incident similar to the one in Nashik is not repeated in Pune. “Hospitals should be asked to get the audit done and submit a report to the civic body as early as possible,” he said.

A day after its jumbo Covid facility and some small private hospitals were faced with oxygen shortage, the PCMC on Wednesday said the issue had eased late on Tuesday and steps were being taken to meet the requirements.

“The demand for medical oxygen for the treatment of Covid-19 patients has increased to 250 metric tonnes. However, the required amount is not being received by hospitals. This has led to shortage in some smaller hospitals, so they have stopped admitting new patients while some have moved their patients to other hospitals,” Mohol said.

He also said the situation in the city was serious and an all-party meeting had been convened in the civic body on Wednesday to discuss the issue. “The responsibility of ensuring sufficient medical oxygen supply is with Food and Drug Administration of the state government, so the authorities have been asked to ensure that there will be no shortage of medical oxygen in city hospitals,” he said.

Small hospitals are also wary of asking relatives of patients to move them to other hospitals in case of shortage of medical oxygen. Hence, they are preferring not to admit new patients. But even larger, multi-specialty private hospitals are facing a similar crisis. Private hospitals like Oyster & Pearl were frantic for the gas most of Wednesday morning. “We have managed all along, but I have never felt as helpless as I did today (Wednesday),” said Dr Amita Phadnis, managing director of the hospital. “There are 125 Covid patients at our main branch at Shivajinagar and another 50 at Shankersheth Road. Civic health authorities have helped us, but it has been an ordeal where not a single vendor was able to respond to our demand,” Dr Phadnis told The Indian Express.

The hospital was able to procure some large oxygen cylinders, but Dr Phadnis said they were unsure that this supply would last beyond eight hours. “We cannot admit other patients who require oxygen till the situation becomes stable,” she said.

The PMC administration is trying to get medical oxygen from other states to meet the increasing demand. It is also setting up oxygen generation plants at Naidu, Dalvi and Baner hospitals.

Rajesh Patil, PCMC Commissioner, said his administration had set up an oxygen monitoring committee, which is keeping a close watch over the situation and coordinating efforts. Deputy Municipal Commissioner Smita Zagade heads the committee. She said there were four senior officials in the committee.

Zagade said, “On Tuesday, oxygen shortage was felt by 25 small private hospitals… By evening, the problem had eased as we made some oxygen cylinders available.”

Zagade said there were no casualties due to oxygen shortage, but the hospitals were in “panic mode” after their stock got exhausted. “We got several calls from smaller hospitals handling Covid patients, seeking help for oxygen cylinders. We provided at least 50 pending cylinders to these hospitals from YCMH. Besides, we also requisitioned some cylinders from a private manufacturer,” she said.

As for the 816-bed jumbo Covid hospital, Zagade said, “Since an emergency situation arose, PCMC commissioner, divisional commissioner and FDA joint commissioner worked late into the night to ensure adequate stock of oxygen to the hospital. They managed to get the supply from manufacturers in Pune and outside.”

Zagade also said efforts were underway to streamline supply to private hospitals as well as civic hospitals.

Erratic supply is a cause for concern. According to Dr Aniket Joshi, consulting physician treating Covid-19 patients at Hardikar, Harjeevan and other hospitals, “Any break in oxygen supply can lead to a casualty and some smaller healthcare facilities have now stopped admissions. Critical cases are being referred to larger hospitals.”

Dr Sanjay Patil, chairperson of Hospital Board of India, Pune chapter, said oxygen availability was fast posing to be a problem. “Several small hospitals that offered their services to treat Covid patients are unsure about uninterrupted supply,” he said.

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Dr Joshi said from 470 smaller hospitals treating Covid patients, the number has come down to 380.

At large hospitals like Ruby Hall Clinic, medical superintendent Dr Avdhut Bodamwad said alarm bells started ringing if supply went below 10 metric tonnes. Dr Madhur Rao, senior deputy medical administrator at KEM hospital, said oxygen was being used judiciously. “To ensure constant supply for our patients, we go a little easy on high-flow nasal oxygen therapy as per guidelines of the Covid task force,” he said.

Sassoon hospital to commission oxygen generating plant

Due to increasing shortage of oxygen at healthcare facilities, the state’s largest government-run Sassoon General Hospital will soon commission its oxygen generating plant. S Chockalingam, administrator, said the pressure swing adsorption (PSA) method will be used to generate oxgyen. Once the plant was commissioned, in a couple of days it will be a continuous process and generate 2,000 litres per minute, he added.

Chockalingam said this would take care of 200 Covid-19 patients requiring oxygen support. At present, Sassoon hospital has two liquid oxygen tanks with a capacity of of 15 kilolitre and 13 kilolitre each.

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