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Oxygen shortage in Amritsar hospitals: Doctors had flagged risk on Friday itself

Interestingly, on Friday, a delegation of IMA Amritsar had presented a memorandum to the DC about the worsening oxygen supply to private hospitals.

Written by Kamaldeep Singh Brar | Amritsar |
April 25, 2021 9:59:54 am
Medical workers bring out a body out of Neelkanth Hospital, in Amritsar on Saturday. (Express Photo: Rana Simranjit Singh)

Neelkanth was not the only hospital facing an oxygen emergency the night six persons died gasping for breath in Amritsar. Guru Nanak Dev Hospital under the Government Medical College, Medicity and some other private hospitals were also facing an oxygen shortage on April 23 night.

Though the Minister of Medical Education in Punjab, O P Soni, shifted the entire blame for the tragedy on the Neelkanth Hospital, he himself admitted, “Last night, there was oxygen emergency at Guru Nanak Dev Hospital and Medicity. I was awake till 1 am arranging for oxygen and remained in touch with Chief Secretary till it was arranged.”

The minister, however, claimed he had no knowledge of the shortage at Neelkanth.

Deputy Commissioner Gurpreet Singh Khira also admitted to the oxygen emergency.

“There was a crisis last night and we used our ambulances to arrange cylinders,” said the DC, while maintaining that the administration was unaware about the situation at Neelkanth.

Interestingly, on Friday, a delegation of IMA Amritsar, comprising president Dr Amandeep Kaur, State IMA president Dr K S Arora, secretary Dr J S Grover, Dr Nayyar, and Dr Ashok Mahajan had presented a memorandum to the DC about the worsening oxygen supply to private hospitals.

The doctors requested the DC to ensure uninterrupted supply of oxygen and life saving drugs, and warned that if this is not done, private hospitals will be forced to turn away serious Covid patients.

Sources said private hospitals were finding it difficult to arrange oxygen ever since Government Medical College (GMC) faced an oxygen emergency on April 19.

“The district administration wanted to avoid a repeat of April 19 at Guru Nanak Dev Hospital, so it took all three oxygen vendors in Amritsar under its control. We were not receiving oxygen and it is the reason that a delegation met the DC on Friday. However, it was too late and tragedy hit Neelkanth Hospital,” said an office-bearer of IMA Amritsar.

The DC, when contacted, said, “We have oxygen suppliers from Uttrakhand and Panipat besides the local suppliers. Some people are hoarding oxygen, other are saving it for future. We had asked private hospitals to keep us updated about oxygen situation at their hospitals during the Friday meeting.”

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