Efforts to ramp up oxygen bed infrastructure in U.T. on a war-footing

Civil work in connection with scaling up oxygen bed infrastructure in progress at IGMCRI..   | Photo Credit: HANDOUT E MAIL

Faced with a rising graph of deaths and infections in the second wave of COVID-19, the administration has initiated efforts to ramp up oxygen bed infrastructure on a war-footing.

The COVID-19 treatment strategy has been to guide the recuperation of asymptomatic/mildly symptomatic patients in home isolation while triaging moderate to severelly-ill patients for hospital admissions to a COVID-19 designated hospital or Covid Care Centres.

“We have launched efforts to ramp up oxygen bed strength in the IGMCRI by another 360 beds,” said T. Arun, Health Secretary.

To illustrate the extent of augmentation at this primary Covid care institution, consider that in April 2020 when the first wave of the pandemic erupted, the IGMCRI had just 25 oxygen beds. These were ramped up serially to 120 by August and later 275. Now, an additional 360 beds are being added for COVID-19 management of the severely ill.

While JIPMER is scaling up to ready about 370 oxygen beds, the six private medical colleges have also been directed to earmark 100 oxygen beds each. The Government General Hospital will have 180 oxygen beds while by courtesy of CSR assistance another 146 oxygen beds are being readied at the TB and Chest Diseases Hospital.

"We are further decentralising oxygen bed infrastructure through the setting up of 40 beds at the Community Health Centre in Karikalampakkam and another 40 beds at the Government Dental College," Mr. Arun said.

The ramp-up to these levels has been driven largely by the Central sanction to set up six Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) plants. "It is fortuitous that in October last year, we had submitted a demand for, and got the nod, for six PSA plants at a time when the emergency nature of such facilities in Covid care had not yet emerged on the horizon," Mr. Arun said.

While at least three have gone onstream, including the one at the General Hospital, the rest would be commissioned in a few days. The benefits are being felt in a place like Karaikal, where the PSA plant is able to cater to the demand for medical oxygen among COVID-19 patients.

The IGMCRI is also installing a 16 KL PSA plant in addition to the existing 10 KL Inox plant to match the projected demand when it will have over 600 oxygen beds. Medium-level institutions are sourcing 6 KL cylinders to cater to their requirements for medical oxygen, Health Department officials said.

Recently, Rajya Sabha MP N. Gokulakrishnan wrote to the Centre to help expedite JIPMER's efforts to expand oxygen storage by setting up an additional 20,000-litre capacity oxygen tank as it created more facilities for critical in-patient Covid admissions. Though the Centre has also suggested the setting up of an oxygen generation plant (with the capacity of generating 3,000-litre per minute of oxygen gas), it was unclear when the facility would materialise and sought the intervention of the Prime Minister and Union Health Minister to expedite the project on a war-footing.

"We are also looking to streamline the triaging process at hospitals in a better way so that the really-needy patients are allocated isolation/oxygen beds. Differentiating those who can be managed to recovery in home isolation can considerably ease the pressure on hospital resources," said Chief Secretary Ashwani Kumar.

The other day, the Health Department opened a 100-bedded oxygen transit ward adjacent to the IGMCRI Casualty to stabilise sick patients before sourcing a bed at a treatment facility. Simultaneously, various steps have been taken to improve management of home isolation patients through IVRS and physical visits to residences by a team, led by junior doctors. 

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Printable version | Jun 13, 2021 6:03:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/efforts-to-ramp-up-oxygen-bed-infrastructure-in-ut-on-a-war-footing/article34587131.ece

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