Multiple strategies adopted to tackle sudden surge in number of critical cases, greater demand for oxygen
Admitting the shortfall of medical oxygen and the Intensive Care Unit beds in the district against the swelling cases of COVID-19 critical patients, Deputy Commissioner of Kalaburagi Vijaya Jyothsna said that the administration was under tremendous pressure for resources.
“Our daily requirement of oxygen has gone up from 7 kl a day a few days ago to 15 kl now owing to the sudden surge in the number of critical COVID-19 patients. If we could get an additional 10 kl, we can comfortably handle the situation. We are trying to augment and streamline the supply by employing multiple methods. District in-charge Minister Murugesh Nirani has been apprised of the situation and he is also trying to get the lifesaving gas by talking to the producers, particularly those operating from Jindal Steel plant at Toranagal, Ballari district,” Ms. Jyothsna told mediapersons here on Tuesday.
Asked about the allegations of oxygen being sold at an inflated price in the black market by one of the oxygen bottling units in the district, the Deputy Commissioner said that she was aware of it and had taken a decision to take over the plant in question under the Disaster Management Act and operate it under the aegis of the district administration.
Responding to a question on the shortfall of oxygen supply to private hospitals due to the alleged directions from the administration to oxygen suppliers to cut down supplies to private facilities to augment supplies in government facilities, Ms. Jyothsna dismissed the allegation by stating that Gulbarga Institute of Medical Science (GIMS) and ESIC Medical Complex, the state-run COVID-19 hospitals, were self-sufficient for oxygen and attributed the problem to the rapid surge in the demand.
“COVID-19 patients are coming to government hospitals when they reach the critical stage and this has led to a shortfall of oxygenated beds. We are now expanding the oxygenated bed capacities in GIMS and ESIC Hospital. In this backdrop, we have asked the oxygen suppliers to supply for government facilities as well. But, we have not asked any supplier to cut down the oxygen supply to private facilities… We are maintaining a stock of 50 cylinders all the time and any hospital could contact us in an emergency,” she said.
Asked whether the administration had asked the hospitals not to use high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) to minimise the use of oxygen, Ms. Jyothsna responded negatively by stating that it would be the treating doctor who would take a call on what and what not should be used depending on the patient’s condition.
“Each patient is different and the treating doctor is the best to judge what is best for the patient. We have, however, advocated judicious use of medical oxygen at the time of its dearth so that the limited lifesaving gas could be optimally used to benefit more number of patients in need,” she said.
On the four deaths in Afzalpur taluk hospital late on Monday that were attributed to the shortfall of oxygen, Ms. Jyothsna admitted the deaths but denied the oxygen shortage as a cause for them.
“Of the four deceased patients, two were confirmed COVID-19 patients and others were suspected COVID-19 patients. They died of other health complications and not of oxygen deficiency. The taluk hospital had enough oxygen stock. Had there been a shortfall of oxygen, they would have definitely called us and we would have immediately supplied it from the stock,” she said adding that the administration was completing the death audit of each case within 72 hours.
Zilla Panchayat Chief Executive Officer Dileesh Sasi, and District Health and Family Welfare Officer Sharanabasappa Ganajalkhed were present.