Six Covid patients die due to shortage of oxygen in MP hospital

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Six Covid patients who were critically ill and were undergoing treatment at the ICU ward of Shahdol medical college died early on Sunday. File photo

Six Covid patients who were critically ill and were undergoing treatment at the ICU ward of Shahdol medical college died early on Sunday allegedly due to a shortage of oxygen supply.

In the last 25 hours, Shahdol medical college has reported 12 deaths of Covid patients.

Alarm bells started ringing at around 10 pm at Shahdol medical college as the pressure of liquid medical oxygen which has a direct supply to the hospital’s ICU unit dropped. It had about 62 patients in its ICU units.

Confirming the death of six Covid patients, Milind Shiralkar, Dean, Shahdol medical college, explained that on Saturday, the oxygen level in the tank was running low and a demand to refill it was also raised. The truck carrying oxygen for refilling the tank was on its way but stopped at Damoh as the truck drivers do not drive post 12 am.

Shiralkar said the newly set up medical college works on dual oxygen supply system — one is a direct supply of liquid medical oxygen to various units of the hospital connected through pipes to an oxygen tank set up at the hospital. As a backup, the 245 odd jumbo oxygen cylinders are pushed into use.

62 patients in ICU

“There were six Covid deaths in the wee house of Sunday but whether it is because of a drop in oxygen supply cannot be ascertained as the hospital has a stock of jumbo oxygen cylinders which were pushed into use as the pressure of liquid medical oxygen dropped,” said Shiralkar.

He pointed out that until 11 am on Sunday, the hospital did not have its liquid medical oxygen tank refilled. “If low oxygen supply was the reason of deaths, the deaths would have been at a much larger scale since at present the hospital has at least 62 patients in its ICU unit alone and a total of 255 Covid positive patients undergoing treatment at the hospital,” said Shiralkar.

However, the rising number of patients from Shahdol and from the neighbouring districts of Annupur, Umaria, Mandla and Dindori is creating a huge burden on the hospital which is in acute shortage of both support staff and doctors.

Against a sanctioned post for 40 medical officers under the National Rural health mission, the hospital administration has not received a single application. Besides, there are only 37 nurses and 27 ward boys while the hospital has raised a demand for 149 nurses and 70 ward boys. Against a sanctioned post of 82 Resident doctors, the medical college is running with 14 doctors presently.

Steep rise in oxygen consumption

MP has witnessed a steep rise in its oxygen consumption with 64 metric tons consumed on March 22 which increased to 179 metric ton on April 7 and further increased to 234 metric ton, the next day on April 8. With 63,889 active cases, MP’s demand stood at 330 metric tons on Saturday and is expected to rise to 440 metric tons by April 20.

Madhya Pradesh does not have an in-house production facility for oxygen. It is currently procuring 180 metric tons of Liquified oxygen from INOX with 70 metric ton coming from its plant in Gujarat, 100 metric tons from UP and another 10 tons from Rajasthan. The government has also tied up with the Bhilai steel plant and would be getting another 80 metric tons.

Apart from liquified oxygen, they are also procuring 40 metric tons from Air Suppression Units installed in Industrial belts within the state.  It has procurers 2150 oxygen concentrators and is in the process of procuring another 4,000 oxygen concentrators. Another 30 tonnes of liquid medical oxygen was received in Indore on Saturday from Reliance Industries Ltd’s unit in Jamnagar in Gujarat.

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