Hindustan Times (East UP)
‘No oxygen, take away your patient’
Several patients, including 8 requiring ventilator support, shifted
LUCKNOW: Fear of death gripped the already panicked attendants and family members, as hospitals called them up to take away admitted Covid positive patients on Wednesday. At least two dozen Covid patients, including eight on ventilator support, had to be shifted for want of oxygen.
Supply breakdown resulted in a major oxygen crisis at several hospitals. The crisis that started on Tuesday night was such that patients from TS Mishra Medical College and Mayo Medical Centre (MMC) had to be shifted to the King George’s Medical University (KGMU).
“We shifted patients, including eight on ventilator support, after oxygen crisis came up and supplied 70 jumbo cylinders to TS Mishra Medical College and 10 to Mayo Medical Centre,” said Dr Sudhir Mishra, spokesperson, KGMU in a press statement issued on Wednesday evening.
As MMC put up the notice, “After repeated requests we are not able to get enough oxygen supply. Hence we are requesting family members of patients on oxygen support, to please take their patients to a higher centre for further management. We are extremely sorry for the inconvenience.” It went viral within minutes. One of city’s biggest Covid facilities in the private sector, MMC had 170 patients admitted.
After getting calls, the relatives reached the hospitals. “It was with great difficulty that we got a bed and with lack of oxygen we now have no way but to wait for destiny to decide,” said an elderly man who had come to get his son shifted to another Covid
“We can’t see admitted patients dying hence we are closing the Covid facility completely in Lucknow, till we get adequate and continuous oxygen,” said Dr Madhulika Singh, head of MMC. “We were assured 400 cylinders per day but we are unable to hardly maintain only 15 minutes of oxygen backup,” she wrote to the chief medical officer.
This wasn’t the lone case, as hospitals across the city started calling the authorities for oxygen. The Makewell hospital also put up a similar notice in the evening. “I need 200 to 300 cylinders per day as we have 50 Covid patients on high flow nasal cannula (HFNC). As stock is almost finished we have requested attendants to take their patients elsewhere,” said Nishant Singh, owner of the hospital.
“There seems no way to help patients. I stopped admissions a day before. But as I got a few cylinders I admitted two serious patients with lung infection and in need of oxygen. Can’t say what will happen in the next few hours,” said Dr Ashish Singh of SKD hospital.
The WhatsApp group made for better coordination among Covid facilities was flooded with panic messages for oxygen. Samples this: “Since there is no oxygen in the hospital at all I am shutting down. Also one two nurses in the hospital now. Me alone. Pl send some manpower with oxygen,” a hospital owner and a neurosurgeon wrote a panic message on the group.
“We are facing excessive crisis of oxygen. Three patients on oxygen and one on bipap support please help,” wrote another doctor from a hospital on Faizabad Road.
The Integral University had also written a letter on Tuesday, stating that the Covid patients under treatment on the campus be shifted to higher centre as oxygen stock was not enough. “We were assured that 250 cylinders will be provided daily but despite our best effort we are able to maintain a backup of 2 to 3 hours,” said director of the hospital Prof MN Siddiqui.
The major load of Covid patients is with medical institutes such as PGI, King George’s Medical University and Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Institute of Medical Sciences who have liquid oxygen tank of about 20000 litre. For the remaining hospitals, Lucknow has six oxygen manufacturing units which can provide 5040 D-type jumbo cylinders every day but the demand is much higher, approximately 9000 cylinders to run all Covid and non-Covid hospitals. On Tuesday, the Balrampur hospital too had poor stock of oxygen and the authorities had to send messages for help with the FSDA officials.
Several among the existing 47 Covid facilities were under pressure for oxygen but many of the 96-hospitals listed under Ayushman Bharat scheme that were added as Covid facilities two days ago, are yet to start admissions due to the lack of oxygen, staff and infrastructure.
Lucknow has till now reported over 1.56 lakh cases and 1544 deaths. The state capital has over 52,000 active cases and almost all the 974 ventilator beds and 1694 high dependency unit (HDU) beds are occupied.
“We are told the railways and Air Force are getting big stock of oxygen in next 7 to 10 hours, which will be a great help and we are hopeful, but the crisis needs oxygen immediately as every minute counts,” said a doctor. To control oxygen shortage, the government has linked 90 small oxygen manufacturing units with 285 hospitals and also asked those manufacturing oxygen for industrial use to divert the same to medical use.