Supply eases but no respite for small hospitals in Delhi
- The quantity of oxygen received by Delhi still remains lower than 700 MT, which the Supreme Court has asked the central government to earmark for Capital, in the light of the unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases that has left the health care system overburdened.
With Delhi receiving 555 MT of medical oxygen on Tuesday – a significant improvement from the average 445 MT per day recorded between May 1 and 3 – the oxygen crisis in the city eased a bit with bigger hospitals saying they are receiving more quantities of oxygen per delivery, which led to fewer alarm calls. Smaller hospitals, which mostly depend on cylinders, however, continue to struggle.
The quantity of oxygen received by Delhi still remains lower than 700 MT, which the Supreme Court has asked the central government to earmark for Capital, in the light of the unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases that has left the health care system overburdened.
“Delhi on Tuesday received 555 MT oxygen – the highest so far. It has come as a relief in a severe crisis situation even though our requirement at this point is 976 MT... But there has been a lot of ad-hoc arrangements from oxygen plants,” said Raghav Chadha, vice chairperson of the Delhi Jal Board, who is monitoring the day-to-day oxygen supply process in the capital.
Dr DS Rana, chairperson of Sir Ganga Ram hospital, said the hospital was receiving two or three large refills every day. “Oxygen situation is much better than before, we do not have to raise alarm every two to three hours like before. If the government gets as much oxygen as needed, the situation is likely to improve,” Rana said.
The hospital was sent a 10 MT tanker, but could not use the oxygen as the connector port of the tanker was not compatible with the one in the hospital. The hospital, however, has sufficient oxygen for now.
“The situation has improved. This is directly related to the amount of oxygen that Delhi gets. On the days that Delhi received a little higher amount of oxygen, we weren’t on the edge,” said Dr Sumit Ray, medical superintendent of Holy Family hospital.
Smaller hospitals continued to struggle as they had to queue up at the 14 designated refilling stations for replenishing their oxygen cylinders.
“I think the oxygen situation is better today, but we face a challenge because of our filling station. The government keeps changing our vendor and our current vendor has no system in place. I have been personally waiting in the queue since 3pm, and I do not know when I will get a refill because the station now says that their stock is over,” said Dr CM Bhagat, medical director the Bhagat Chandra Hospital, Dwarka.
Chadha expressed hope that the Centre will develop more systematic ways to ensure oxygen supply to Delhi.
“Also, it should not be like Delhi ends up receiving a decent amount of oxygen as a reaction to the high court pulling up the central government,” he said.
On May 1, 2 and 3, Delhi received 454 MT, 447 MT and 433 MT oxygen respectively – an average of 445 MT per day, with the entire process under the scrutiny of both the Supreme Court and the Delhi high court. Between April 21 and 30, Delhi received 353 MT oxygen per day on average.
While the Centre has failed to ensure the supply of 700 metric tonnes (MT) quota of medical oxygen to the national capital, the Delhi government has been unable to arrange for cryogenic tankers to pick up supplies – both of which continue to remain key hurdles as hospitals send out desperate appeals for uninterrupted flow to save critically ill patients.
“We received 48 oxygen-related SOS calls on Tuesday. All of them were resolved. We supplied 36.40 MT oxygen from out SOS oxygen reserves. These hospitals collectively have 4,036 occupied oxygen beds,” said Chadha.
Government records showed, of the 48 distress calls, 20 were addressed with cylinders, 13 with liquid medical oxygen, and 15 pertained to streamlining supply and distribution.