COVID crisis: 'Overburdened' SMHS gasps for oxygen

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Despite a spike in COVID19 patients requiring oxygen support, SMHS hospital here is facing oxygen supply shortage, hampering treatment of patients.

According to some doctors, the hospital management was not able to ensure adequate oxygen supply to COVID19 patients, raising question marks about the healthcare infrastructure.

“We are facing problems even in surgical Intensive Care Unit. The oxygen plant in the hospital is not able to supply adequate oxygen to critically ill COVID patients at this time which is a cause of concern,” said a senior doctor.

“For COVID patients we have to maintain high level oxygen concentration as this is the only thing which can save them in absence of any vaccine for the virus. Ironically, the supply level of oxygen is not up to the mark thus creating further problems for COVID patients,” he said, adding that “doctors are facing ire of the attendants when they see the situation that their patient is not getting adequate oxygen which could prove fatal”.

Attendants of several COVID positive patients too complained of inadequate oxygen supply in the hospital. “We have utmost respect for junior doctors who are putting their lives at risk while treating COVID patients, but the unfortunate part is that the hospital lacks adequate oxygen supplying capacity.”

The patients also alleged that the hospital management was not providing them with poly masks which are used to supply high-level oxygen to COVID19 patients. “It is a fact that attendants in this hour of crisis have to buy poly masks from the open market as we cannot use nasal prongs or routine oxygen masks to these patients.”

Medical Superintendent, SMHS, Dr Nazir Chowdhary admitted that the hospital was facing oxygen supply shortage due to the increasing number of admission of COVID positive patients requiring oxygen.

“Yesterday, we had 54 patients on trolleys, we have oxygen supply which could suffice our existing bed capacity, but once the number of patients exceeds our intake capacity, oxygen shortage is bound to happen,” he said. “Patients are coming round the clock; we fear in future the problem would further deteriorate. Our oxygen plant is working round the clock, we have 400 oxygen cylinders, but despite this we are facing problems.”

He said an oxygen cylinder exhausts in 15 minutes. “We have kept two dedicated vehicles for getting refills. Apart from this we are working to augment our oxygen capacity,” he said.