Government Medical College (GMC) Anantnag is facing a shortage of basic oxygen supply devices to treat the patients gasping for breath in the isolation ward of the hospital.
In routine days, patients are asked to purchase these items on their own or the hospital re-uses the same after sterilisation.
However, World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines strictly emphasize on discarding the used masks by doctors, health workers, and patients in hospitals to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection.
A senior doctor said that these "low-flow oxygen devices" might soon run out of stock in the open market.
"All the hospitals should have at least this basic oxygen-flow system in place by now," he said.
The doctor said that these include a nasal prong, simple face oxygen mask, non-breather mask, venture mask and re-breathing mask (mask with bag reservoir).
He said that the nasal prong or cannula, used to deliver oxygen to a patient in need of respiratory help till 5 liters costs barely Rs 70 in the open market.
The doctor said that if the patient requires supply beyond that level till 10 liters, then simple oxygen mask is put to use, which costs Rs 90.
He said beyond that till 15 liters, a non- breather mask which does not cost more than Rs 140 is required.
"In severe cases, when the patient does not respond, the doctors put to use Venturi or the venti mask which delivers known oxygen concentration to patients on controlled oxygen therapy at much higher rates," the doctor said.
It approximately costs Rs 150 in the market.
The doctor said that if the patient's carbon dioxide level decreases during respiratory support, a mask with a bag reservoir, which also costs Rs 150 approximately, was also a must.
He said that the basic low oxygen flow system was a prerequisite before putting the respiratory failure patient on a life support system or ventilator.
However, a medic said that the GMC Anantnag was short of devices and the stock that had been procured was not made available to the patients.
"The administration had procured some stock of these basic oxygen supply devices but the store-keeping staff has failed to make it available to the patients," he said.
The medic said that it needs to be enquired why these devices were not being provided to the patients if the hospital had procured them and that the hospital does not have enough stock of venturi masks.
"With no ICU available, the patients have to be managed by a Bi-Pap (bi-level positive pressure ventilation), however, the patients in the isolation ward don't get it easily," he said.
However, Medical Superintend (MS) GMC Anantnag, Muhamad Iqbal Sofi said that they had four Bi-Papa available for COVID-19 patients and two more in ICU.
"Twenty five of the high-flow devices procured last year which were non-functional have been replaced now. We also had procured 25 more from Jammu Kashmir Medical Supplies Corporation Limited," the MS said.
He said they had procured several devices through Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janashudi Meddical and had sufficient stock of oxygen and other devices for at least a month.
"We have put another supply order to JKSMSCL and are expecting to get it soon," the MS said.
The attendants of the patients have also been complaining that they were forced to even purchase pulse-oxymeters and infra-red thermometers from the open market.
"I got a pulse-oxymeter and infra-red thermometer from the market to monitor the saturation and temperature of my father who was admitted in the hospital for more than a week," said Asif Nazir of Sarnal locality of Anantnag town who recently ost his father to COVID-19.