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Smaller hospitals struggle to transport oxygen supplies

More than 20 hospitals with low bed capacities in the city are struggling to replenish their oxygen supply on a daily basis, with hospital staffers having to restock and transport the cylinders from facilities across the district, according to hospital administrations
By Leena Dhankhar, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON APR 26, 2021 11:45 PM IST

More than 20 hospitals with low bed capacities in the city are struggling to replenish their oxygen supply on a daily basis, with hospital staffers having to restock and transport the cylinders from facilities across the district, according to hospital administrations.

Dr Prithvi Raj Aryan, the director of Aryan Hospital on Old Railway Road, which has a capacity of 70 beds, all of which are occupied by Covid-19 patients, said that the hospital staff is involved in refilling and transporting oxygen cylinders. “It is sad to see more than six staff members are only involved in arranging oxygen supply. The administration only shares the location but is not delivering the supply. It is taking more than eight hours to arrange four oxygen cylinders,” he said.

Dr Aryan also said that he contacted the deputy commissioner and the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG), asking them to hire private vehicles for the deliveries. “The cost of oxygen and vehicle can be taken from the hospitals. This way we will get the oxygen supply at our doorstep and the staff can focus on patients health instead of arranging oxygen. There is no support from any department and it seems it is an individual battle, we are fighting for our patients’ lives and officers have turned a blind eye,” he said.

Dr Ashok Khanna, of Kalyani Hospital in Sector 14, said that they are managing oxygen on their own with great difficulty. “There is shortage everywhere and we are managing to get oxygen every day from different places so that 28 patients can get proper oxygen,” he said.

Private hospitals that do not have oxygen plants in their hospitals are dependent on cylinders, which are already short in the market.

Doctors of private hospitals said they were assured that oxygen supply will be streamlined last week, with supplies arranged from plants in Panipat and Bhiwadi of Rajasthan, but to no avail. Hospitals have cited genuine concerns about medical oxygen availability even after the supply was resumed from the Bhiwadi plant.

Dipankar Sethi, general manager, operations, Sethi Hospital in Model Town, said that the oxygen supply was not reaching the hospital on time. “It is the responsibility of the hospital to arrange and manage oxygen. We are running to Manesar and Sector 37 to get the oxygen cylinders refilled. Despite repeated reminders to the administration, we are not getting oxygen,” he said.

On the other hand, the district administration said that all demands were met and regular oxygen supplies were sent to private hospitals.

Yash Garg, deputy commissioner, Gurugram, said the mobile numbers of all the officials have been shared with the private hospitals. “We are responding to all calls and messages throughout the day and the teams are on their toes. If any hospital is alleging that they have not received oxygen supply, then I have all the records (to show that) they have regularly being supplied. We are trying to increase the oxygen supply and demands are being met,” he said.

Garg said they are regularly coordinating with oxygen plants and with the two companies in Bhiwadi and Panipat to increase the supply. “Hospitals have been assured that oxygen supply will be streamlined this week as logistics are being arranged. There has been an improvement, as compared to last week and we are hopeful to overcome this issue at the earliest,” he said.

Hospitals in the city have been grappling with a shortage of oxygen supply amid the spiral in Covid-19 cases.

On Sunday, six critically ill Covid-19 patients who were on ventilator support died at two private hospitals due to a shortage of oxygen. Staff at the hospital alleged that they had raised the alarm with the authorities concerned well on time, but did not get the supply despite assurances.

Dr AK Kathuria, the owner of Kathuria Hospital, where four patients died on Sunday, said that if the situation remains the same, the hospital will have to shut operations as families of other patients are also panicking. “Raising voice against the administration will leave an impact but we cannot play with the lives who are admitted in our hospital and have faith in us,” he said.

Officials said that it is a difficult situation for all parties concerned and they are regularly coordinating with the hospital staff on daily basis. “Even a green corridor has been created by police for the regular and quick supply from Bhiwadi and Panipat. We are also trying to tie up with the local suppliers for delivery,” Garg said.

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