The rapidly widening gap between demand and supply of medical oxygen has pushed healthcare facilities into a deep crisis in Kalaburagi.
Particularly, private hospitals and critical COVID-19 patients being treated on oxygen fear the worst, with the district administration allegedly asking oxygen suppliers to cut supply to private hospitals by half to augment supplies in government hospitals.
There were four oxygen plants in the district that supplied oxygen to various hospitals in the district after converting it from liquid to gas and filling it in cylinders. Two of them recently downed their shutters mounting more pressure on the remaining plants.
For the last two days, the administration deployed police force in the plants to ensure diversion of filled cylinders to government facilities, especially to ESIC Medical Complex where ICU bed capacity is being expanded. The local administration has even collected oxygen cylinders from private hospitals for the purpose.
Some hospitals had managed to get supply from Raichur till the last few days. However, increased local demand compelled the Raichur district administration to stop supply to Kalaburagi.
“We need at least 200 oxygen cylinders a day, of which we used to get 100 from Raichur. After Raichur supplies were stopped, we had to depend on local suppliers who hardly give 50 cylinders a day. There are a number of critical COVID-19 patients, who are on oxygen support in this hospital. How do we treat them without oxygen?” asked the managing director of a private hospital.
He pointed out that despite having enough time after the first wave, the administration hardly did anything to augment and streamline oxygen production and supplies. It is now a knee-jerk reaction with no contingency plan, he added.
Deputy Commissioner Vijaya Jyothsna, taking note of the increased consumption of oxygen, has directed an oxygen audit to ensure its optimum utilisation. Health authorities have also told hospitals to stop using high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) that requires more oxygen and instead use a non-invasive ventilation method to save oxygen.
“It is true that private hospitals are reeling under oxygen crisis due to inadequate supply. We have asked all hospitals to stop HFNC so that a certain amount of oxygen could be saved and used for other patients,” Gopal Rao Bhandari, Assistant Drug Controller who was involved in the pandemic control exercise, told The Hindu. “If the government is not able to ensure adequate supply of oxygen to private hospitals, it should better ask private parties to close down their COVID-19 hospitals and shift all patients to government hospitals,” a doctor who runs a COVID-19 hospital said.