The Delhi government has installed 42 PSA (pressure swing adsorption) plants in its hospitals with a combined capacity to generate 50.08 metric tonnes of medical oxygen as part of preparations to meet a surge in Covid cases during a possible third wave.
As per official records, out of the total, 13 PSA plants — seven in Delhi government hospitals and six in Centre-run hospitals — have been set up using the PM Cares fund. The rest have come up under various CSR initiatives.
According to the roadmap, 18 more PSA plants are likely to come up in Delhi government hospitals by August 31 and three by October 15. Under PM Cares, 9 more plants are scheduled to be commissioned in Delhi government hospitals by August 15 and four in Union government hospitals.
PSA plants are compact set-ups to generate medical oxygen, located within hospital premises. These help in meeting emergency situations — like the second wave when demand for medical oxygen had shot up sharply, leaving hospitals and government in a panic.
Efforts to augment the generation, storage and transport capacity of medical oxygen is being carried out by the government keeping a scenario drawn up by an IIT-Delhi committee in mind, where the capital can record up to 36,900 cases a day, out of which 7,300 might need hospitalisation.
In such a scenario, apart from PSA plants which can help at a very limited scale, the Delhi government will have to centrally maintain a storage capacity of 287 MT, while 51 large hospitals will have to separately augment their storage capacity to 350 MT.
During the second wave, oxygen storage capacity of the Delhi government was only 20 MT, “which was highly inadequate to fulfill the gap between oxygen demand and supply”, said the IIT-Delhi report. Towards that end, the Delhi government’s storage capacity has now risen to 271 MT, as per health department records.
Efforts are being made to enhance storage capacity at the level of the hospitals as well. On July 28, the health department floated a tender for setting up three storage tanks at Sanjay Gandhi Hospital, Satyawadi Raja Harish Chander Hospital and Bhagwan Mahavir Hospital with a net capacity to hold over 50 MT medical oxygen.
A senior official involved in the third wave preparations said, “Arrangements in terms of oxygen have made progress. The real challenge will be in deploying additional healthcare workers. The government can increase number of beds very quickly by roping in private hospitals, declaring more hospitals as Covid-dedicated, or through makeshift facilities. However, during the second wave, many such additional facilities suffered severe shortage of healthcare workers. This is discussed in review meetings.”