Oxygen shortage: Many hospitals in Bengaluru stop admitting COVID-19 patients

Oxygen shortage, which has been a major issue ever since the second wave of COVID-19 set in, continued to hit patients in the city with several hospitals asking them to shift to other facilities as they ran out of stock.

Many hospitals, except the corporate chain facilities, said they had stopped admitting COVID-19 patients even if they had beds as they do not have oxygen supply.

On Monday, at least 30 patients at Medax Hospital in Sultanpalya were asked to shift out as the hospital ran out of oxygen. The hospital’s medical director, Srihari R. Shapur, gave in writing to the relatives of the 30 patients, seven of whom were in the ICU, to arrange for beds in other hospitals as the oxygen stock there was just enough to last till 5 p.m. on the day.

There was chaos near the hospital with the patients’ relatives scrambling to ensure their dear ones got life support. Dr. Shapur told The Hindu, “We discharged five of the patients, including two from the ICU, after they made arrangements elsewhere. We are still waiting for stocks. It is a horrible situation.”

Soon after the shocking news of the Chamarajanagar deaths started pouring in, several hospitals in Bengaluru flagged the oxygen shortage issue with the government. Rajarajeshwari Medical College hospital on Mysuru Road, which had 200 patients on oxygen, said the hospital is running out of oxygen by 5 p.m. on Monday. The issue was resolved only by 8 p.m. when oxygen on the way to another hospital was diverted there.

Doctors at Supra Multispeciality Hospital in J.P. Nagar, which is also facing a similar situation, said the hospital had only three cylinders left for 35 patients. “Although we had been assured of supply in the afternoon itself, we are still waiting for stocks. We did not admit new COVID-19 patients on Monday and will continue to do so till we have enough stocks,” said Vinay B.G., who runs the hospital. It was a similar situation at Chaitanya Medical Centre in Yelahanka New Town and several other such smaller facilities.

Prasanna H.M., president of the Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes’ Association, attributed the problem to logistical issues in the supply chain. “Quantity is not an issue, but the problem lies in the supply chain. With very few supply tankers, the vendors are unable to visit the hospitals two or three times a day for refilling,” he said.

“If the available quantity is utilised properly and the supply chain upgraded, the problem can be resolved. What we need now is uninterrupted supply of liquid oxygen to the suppliers and from them to the hospitals,” Dr. Prasanna added.

Health Commissioner K.V. Trilok Chandra said most of the smaller hospitals run on cylinders that require frequent refilling. “The vendors are finding it difficult to visit the hospitals for refilling several times a day. We are trying to address the issue.”


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