Moribund oxygen plants in south Kashmir hospitals

Set up five years ago to end referral of patients needing respiratory support, the oxygen plant in district hospital Kulgam is yet to be made operational. “The respiratory ailment and pneumonic patients are at times being managed by oxygen concentrators, but preferably referred to Anantnag or Srinagar hospitals for want of high flow oxygen supply,” a doctor told Greater Kashmir. “This puts burden on tertiary care hospitals that are already filled with Covid-19 patients.”

He said: “We are yet to reach the peak and the doctors in tertiary hospitals are already struggling to keep patients breathing in absence of oxygen supplying beds.”

A senior doctor said that the plant was put to trial some three years ago. “As the plant remains non-functional, the hospital administration is unable to shift the medical wards, surgical wards, causality and other wards to the new building inaugurated a decade ago,” the doctor said.

Medical Superintendent, Dr Muzafar Ahmad confirmed that the plant was not operating. “For now we have got enough stock of bulk –oxygen concentrators to manage patients needing respiratory support,” he said.

However, the MS said that the facility is likely to be made operational soon.

The doctor, however, said the hospital has not hired the trained manpower to run the plant even after five months after the outbreak of this pandemic.

Other hospitals across the south and north Kashmir present a similar spectacle.

The district hospital Shopian is without any oxygen plant while in Pulwama hospital, the plant which was made operational last year has inadequate oxygen points connected to the wards.

Similarly, in the 250-bedded GMC Anantnag hospital, doctors said, only 82 beds have oxygen supplying points.

“There is no high flow oxygen supply available even in the fifteen bedded isolation ward of the hospital,” a medic said adding the COVID-19 positive patients have to rely on low oxygen supply cylinders only.

He suggested that the points already available should be augmented. “As the patient rush increases, the pneumonia patients have to wait for hours together to get the much needed oxygen supply,” the medic said.

Principal, GMC Anantnag Dr Showkat Jeelani, said the hospital has sufficient oxygen supply points. “We also have more than 100 bulk oxygen concentrators at our disposal,” he said.

Doctors opine that the augmenting high flow oxygen supply in hospitals would help reduce the mortality rate due to Covid-19 virus.