Following multiple incidents of shortage of oxygen at the Gujarat Medical Research and Education Society (GMERS)-run Gotri Covid-19 hospital since September 2, and an inspection by a special team from Gandhinagar, Officer on Special Duty Vinod Rao has appointed a nodal officer to ensure uninterrupted supply of oxygen to all hospitals in Vadodara. The appointment comes even as the installation of a Liquid Oxygen (Lox) tank with a capacity of 13,000 litres is underway at the GMERS campus.
J P Patel, Assistant Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration department in Vadodara, will now serve as the Nodal Officer for ensuring supply of oxygen to the city hospitals. Another FDA officer, Senior Drugs Inspector Mahendra Nakarani has been appointed as Assistant Nodal Officer. Official sources said that the appointment comes in wake of an inspection conducted by a team from Gandhinagar at Gotri hospital on September 7, after allegations that the hospital was “wasting” Lox due to imprudent use. A team headed by the GMERS CEO visited the hospital and took stock of the situation but did not find any anomaly in the usage. On the night of September 2, the hospital ran low on Lox supply with over a 100 Covid-19 patients on Oxygen support and ventilators. However, sources said that a doctor at the hospital ensured that the Lox refill arrived in the nick of time, after much difficulty.
The letter of appointment, signed by Rao, said, “Of the total 5,000 beds designated for Covid-19 treatment in Vadodara, Gotri has 525 beds while SSG Hospital 575 beds. For the last ten days, there has been difficulty in procuring oxygen from various agencies. Gotri hospital had an emergency requisition for oxygen with help of the hospital team, which averted a major tragedy.”
The letter estimates that the Lox requirement of Gotri hospital could go up from the existing 15-17 tonnes per day to 20-22 tonnes.
“It is essential to ensure that this supply is maintained daily as well as an overall supply of about 50 tonnes to all hospitals in Vadodara city. It is also necessary to ensure a buffer stock of two days to be ready for use. It is your responsibility to ensure this,” Rao has said in a letter to Patel.
The letter also states that the oxygen should be procured on the predecided rate. Rao has also instructed Patel to be present at all meetings held by the Additional Collectors Ashok Patel and Biren Pathak for Gotri and SSG Covid-19 hospitals, respectively. Vadodara has 2,780 beds occupied in various private and government hospitals . The total capacity is 5,034 and the VMC has issued a notification of procurement of close to 230 more beds for Covid treatment at private hospitals. The total number of ICU beds is 831 of which 645 are occupied and 1,885 beds with oxygen supply of which 1,057 are currently occupied.
Rao said, “There were unconfirmed reports that Oxygen Tankers are diverted for industrial purposes and some agencies were demanding higher prices from designated Covid-19 hospitals. All oxygen suppliers present in the meeting were strictly warned and they assured a guaranteed supply of oxygen. We will lodge FIR and initiate the cancellation of license against any agency which is creating artificial scarcity or charging more than normal rates.”