More hospitals in Gurgaon raise oxygen SOS: ‘Losing battle if we don’t get urgent supply’

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner of Gurgaon, Yash Garg, denied that there was any shortage of oxygen in the district, and blamed the problem on the “tanker turnaround time”.

A day after Artemis Hospital faced a shortage of oxygen, two more private hospitals in Gurgaon on Saturday put out appeals for help on Twitter.

At 11.20 am, Max Healthcare tweeted that it has “less than 2 hours’ oxygen supplies at Max Hospital Gurugram and attached dedicated Covid Centre” and that the “supplies expected at 10 am (had been) diverted”.

More than 70 patients are admitted at the hospital and the dedicated Covid Centre. Several senior ministers, including Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij and Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan were tagged in the tweet.

Three hours later, it tweeted that oxygen supplies had been received, and thanked the Haryana CM and Health Minister, Gurgaon Deputy Commissioner and the police “for the promptness and for creating a green corridor to get this supply in time”.

Meanwhile, a second hospital in the district, Mayom Hospital in South City I, also put out an SOS.

“We are running out of oxygen. Reached a situation where we are forced to shift ventilators between critical patients. Losing battle if we don’t get urgent supply,” the hospital tweeted.

Speaking to The Indian Express, officials from the 100-bed hospital said they have 80 Covid patients in wards and 20 in ICU. The hospital, officials said, does not have a liquid oxygen plant and meets its needs using cylinders refilled at bigger oxygen plants and carried to the hospital.

“We have, for several years, been sourcing our oxygen from a private vendor in Gurgaon, but they are facing a huge shortage of oxygen delivery from the backend and are not getting enough supply to replenish our cylinders. Because of this, our entire team is on its toes and we are running all over the place — to Manesar, Sonipat, Faridabad — to get cylinders filled. We are running to different hospitals to try to borrow emergency cylinders from them,” said Dr Manish Prakash, CEO of the hospital.

“The supply we have right now is enough for only a couple of hours. A cylinder lasts only five to seven minutes, but the turnaround time to fill up a cylinder and get it here is almost two hours. So, despite having almost 80 cylinders, we are unable to restore the regular continuous supply of oxygen to our patients,” he said.

Hospitals in Gurgaon said that while such SOS messages have started pouring in on Twitter now, the problem of oxygen supply has persisted for the past several days.

“The issue has been there for the last 10 days now; there has been a breakdown in the supply chain and I see no support from the local or central administration. In Gurgaon and Delhi, they have made Covid hospitals which have to update their bed occupancy every day. So when they know how many patients are there, it is their duty to ensure the requirements are also met accordingly,” said Dr Prakash.

At Park Hospital, officials said they have had to turn away patients due to shortage of oxygen. The hospital currently houses 52 Covid patients.

“The problem has started in the last few days because the number of patients is increasing and the demand for oxygen is high. Normally, we give 4 litres of oxygen per person, but these patients require almost 10 litres and as a result, oxygen tanks empty out much faster. We need 3,000 litres of oxygen per day… Right now, we are managing by juggling between cylinders and liquid oxygen. We have also purchased around 20 oxygen concentrators and are using these for the patients who need less than 5 litres of oxygen instead of the central supply. We are rationing oxygen in a way that is clinically oriented and reasonable,” said Dr P N Kakar, CEO of Park Hospital, adding that although the hospital had received communication from the administration on Friday that 4 tonnes has been sanctioned for it, the supply has not yet reached.

“This is actually a failure on the part of those in control. The government should have been well prepared for giving us adequate supply. In a pandemic, you have to anticipate that a second wave will come. The planning period has been missed,” he said.

At Fortis Memorial Research Institute (FMRI), officials admitted that their supply has been “deeply affected and delayed” for the last few days.

“We are seeing a huge surge in Covid cases requiring oxygen support in the last fortnight and this is further increasing each day. We were to get our daily supply from INOX Bhiwadi, but our supply has been deeply affected and delayed in the last few days. Government has issued orders today to the plant to fulfil our requirement of the allocated quota. We hope that with this order, the supply will be streamlined now,” said Dr Ritu Garg, the zonal director.

At Artemis Hospital, Dr Devlina Chakravarty, the managing director, said: “I think the entire thing is a logistics issue, we have to get our logistics better. We should get the help of maybe the Indian Army, Navy, Indian Air Force, because they are the best at logistics.”

Deputy Commissioner of Gurgaon, Yash Garg, meanwhile, has denied that there was any shortage of oxygen in the district, and blamed the problem on the “tanker turnaround time”.

“The problem is not a lack of oxygen. We have been allocated 20 metric tonnes from INOX as well as 15 MT from Panipat, so we have a total 35 MT allocation, and if we require more in an emergency, we get it. The only problem is the tanker turnaround time; the tankers take some time to reach the hospital because the demand is high from everywhere,” said Garg.

“The basic problem with these big hospitals was that they had private suppliers of their own, and in this crisis time, all of them deserted. They are now in a situation where sometimes, the private players deliver and sometimes they don’t. When they don’t, the hospital raises a flag and then we scramble to get the oxygen, but the tankers take some time because oxygen is not produced in Gurgaon,” he said.

Additional Chief Secretary T C Gupta, during a meeting Saturday, also reiterated that there is no shortage of oxygen in Gurgaon.

“There is no shortage of oxygen in Gurgaon; there is only a need to manage it on the ground. Earlier, Gurgaon was receiving 20 to 22 MT liquid medical oxygen, which was sufficient for the district. Keeping in mind the increased demand, however, 31 MT liquid oxygen has been supplied in Gurgaon on Friday… In today’s meeting, there have been discussions about increasing the oxygen supply, and this will be done. There is no need to panic about oxygen supply,” he said.

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