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Bengaluru railway officials manage to save lives after its hospital faced acute oxygen shortage

The 65-bedded hospital with 15 ICU beds, located near the back entry of the KSR Railway station, is presently a COVID-designated hospital. It is well equipped with a centralized oxygen supply system.

Published: 30th April 2021 09:26 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th April 2021 09:26 AM   |  A+A-

Divisional Railway Hospital located at the back entry of KSR railway station

Divisional Railway Hospital located at the back entry of KSR railway station (File photo | EPS)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Horror unfolded around 7.30 pm on Thursday at the Bengaluru Divisional Railway Hospital when it was left with just one hour of oxygen supply for 13 patients battling COVID-19 in the ICU here.

The situation was an outcome of the hospital’s regular oxygen supplier from Peenya not turning up at his usual time to deliver the daily quota and the Chief Medical Superintendent (CMS) here allegedly not giving the issue the seriousness it warranted.

Oxygen arranged in the nick of time saved the emergency patients but a huge tragedy could have easily unfolded.

The 65-bedded hospital with 15 ICU beds, located near the back entry of the KSR Railway station, is presently a COVID-designated hospital. It is well equipped with a centralized oxygen supply system.

According to a top railway source, Southern Gas Supply used to provide the Hospital around 70 litres of oxygen in jumbo cylinders every day the last fortnight due to the COVID surge among railway staff.

“The supplier was supposed to deliver it on Thursday at his regular time of 4 pm.  He did not turn up and conveyed his inability to do so citing heavy demand from other hospitals. The CMS Dr Meera N Patil brought the issue to the attention of the railway administration much later when she realized that the oxygen in stock would last only a little over an hour,” the source said.

With just 60 minutes left to save lives, it was a nightmarish situation at the Divisional Railway Manager’s office. DRM A K Verma and Additional Divisional Railway Manager, Administration, Kusuma Hariprasad, also the COVID in-charge officer, made desperate calls. Many other staffers were also trying to arrange oxygen somehow.

“Any quantity from any supplier, even one or two cylinders were rushed and bought before the hospital’s oxygen ran out.  After much pressure, the regular supplier finally landed around 9 pm with some cylinders. It was only by 10 pm that the DRM and ADRM left office after the situation was fully under control,” said another source.

The DRM said, “We generally have continuous oxygen supply. Though the situation was critical today, it was never nil. We have arranged supply from multiple sources and as of now we have over 40 cylinders and expect to get 68 more cylinders by night. “

An individual familiar with the evening’s events stressed, “It was clearly a case of bureaucratic bungling by the CMS with the doctors here warned not to reveal anything to others.”

An official conceded that the Bengaluru Railway Division escaped from a horrific tragedy unfolding within a couple of hours. “If the oxygen could not have been arranged, we would have tried to shift them to any of our private empanelled hospitals but no one knows if we could have got them an ICU bed due to the scene in the city now,” he said.

There were two deaths at the hospital on Thursday evening with few staffers alleging it was an outcome of oxygen shortage but the DRM emphatically said, “No deaths have taken place due to oxygen shortage. “

The Division has been struggling with mounting COVID cases as nearly 800 present and past railway employees and their families have tested positive as on date.

The CMS could not be reached for her version.



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