Dr D K Baluja, medical director of the hospital, said that of the 20 patients who died on Friday night, 19 were under critical care requiring ventilator support and high-flow oxygen administered via high-flow nasal cannula among others. “We were supposed to receive our oxygen supply at 5.30pm on Friday and had plans in place to pull through for another two to three hours. But when the oxygen supply didn’t arrive for five hours, we had to use 50 big cylinders kept in reserve to continue oxygen therapy to the patients. It couldn’t deliver oxygen with the required pressure, leading to the death of some of the critically ill patients,” he said. “It is a combined failure of all of us. It is a catastrophic manmade disaster in a developing country.”
Some city hospitals ask relatives to shift patients
Lives of more than 100 patients at risk. 500 cubic metres of oxygen left which will last for 45 minutes to an hour. Manual ventilation starts. Need urgent refill ASAP,” read the SOS sent out by the hospital. Such is the nerve-wracking tension being experienced by hospitals as an erratic oxygen supply keeps them on tenterhooks.
Saroj Super Specialty Hospital, Rohini, which too has been facing shortage of oxygen, advised its patients to shift to other hospitals during the day. The erratic supply of oxygen has been making the doctors anxious for five days now. The problem is also causing stress and anxiety among the family members of the patients. “Why can’t the government fix this problem? The deaths may be mere numbers for some but end of the world for the families,” said Ravi Prakash, whose mother is admitted here.
The hospital had just five minutes of oxygen supply left at 1.30pm on Saturday. “We have received the supply and will survive till 1pm on Sunday afternoon,” said Dr PK Bhardwaj, chief executive director and head of department of surgery at the hospital.
Batra Hospital in south Delhi asked the families of patients to take them home. “Can’t see them dying, and hence we are asking the attendants to take them home,” said Dr SCL Gupta, medical director, at 4pm. Dr Gupta broke down while talking about the crisis the hospital has been facing for the past two days.
“Since we received the supply in the evening, we are fine for now but tomorrow is another day,” said Gupta.
Shanti Mukand Hospital in Karkardooma, east Delhi, had enough oxygen only for an hour when TOI spoke to them at 8.19pm. CEO Sunil Kumar Saggar said: “We have been waiting since 5pm and were told the tanker will reach by 8pm.”
Metro Hospital in Preet Vihar had started telling their patients around noon about the crisis. They received a tanker early in the morning around 5am which helped them through the day, but by 12pm on Saturday there was only some hours of supply left. “We had supply for an hour or so and raised an SOS request. We are taking no new patients who need oxygen support as it would be tough for us to manage,” said the nodal officer. Finally, they got the supply that would last till Sunday morning.
At Makkar Hospital in Laxmi Nagar, the supply was over by noon. Moolchand Hospital also sent out an SOS in the morning saying it had limited supply of oxygen. Most of the hospitals have not been taking any fresh admissions.