Govt scrambles to set up oxygen plants in hospitals

Rising number of Covid cases has disrupted supply chain, says Medical Education minister
Ambulance drivers on Covid duty take a dinner break between shifts near Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences in Bengaluru | Shriram BN
Ambulance drivers on Covid duty take a dinner break between shifts near Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences in Bengaluru | Shriram BN

BENGALURU: After two back-to-back incidents of Covid-19 patients, dependent on oxygen, being shifted to different hospitals at night due to supply disruptions, the State Government is now seriously working on setting up oxygen plants at all hospitals in Karnataka.

On Tuesday, Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar visited Kempe Gowda Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS), which shifted 47 oxygen-dependent Covid patients to other hospitals after it ran out of liquid oxygen late on Monday night. Last Saturday, 17 patients at the C V Raman Hospital in Indiranagar had to be shifted to other hospitals for similar reasons.

“We are taking steps to set up oxygen plants in all government hospitals across the state. We are in contact with private firms which supply liquid oxygen. The Principal Secretary to the Industries Department is in touch with them,” the minister said.

Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar visited and took stock of the
situation at KIMS hospital in Bengaluru, on Tuesday | express

He also reviewed the available infrastructure at KIMS and said the government has ensured that KIMS has enough oxygen cylinders now. The chaos was due to the high demand, coupled with delay in supply of cylinders by the vendor, he reasoned. He, however, insisted that no patient’s condition had deteriorated due to this issue and all were immediately shifted in fully equipped ambulances to other designated Covid-19 hospitals. The government has also readied 40 oxygen beds at Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RGICD) for emergencies, he added.

Sudhakar pointed out that with the increasing number of cases, the demand for oxygen cylinders has risen by 4-5 times. “There are some issues with supply of cylinders to hospitals. I have directed the officials to make necessary arrangements and ensure adequate supply of liquid oxygen to all hospitals and medical colleges in the state,” he said.

“KIMS hospital has a liquid oxygen plant, but it is receiving only half the supply due to the rising demand,” he explained. He also said that he has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help set up more liquid oxygen plants in the state when he last interacted with him during a video conference.
Due to the demand, the price of liquid oxygen has also risen and the government is mulling on regulating it.  “We will regulate prices, if needed, at the state level,” Sudhakar said. “However, for regulating the cost in case of vendors from other states, we may have to approach the Central Government,” he added.

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