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Coronavirus | 100-bed COVID-19 hospital comes up in Srinagar

A nurse prepares a shot of a vaccine against COVID-19 at a primary health center in Srinagar on Saturday, May 8, 2021.   | Photo Credit: NISSAR AHMAD

Disturbing and moving pictures of pandemic-stricken patients from Delhi, gasping for oxygen on roads and outside hospitals, spurred a rare Good Samaritan effort in Srinagar this week — the setting up of a second-line of oxygen support in a pilgrimage centre-turned hospital in a record 72 hours.

On Friday, at the Haj Complex, otherwise only used when local Muslims travel to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage to Mecca, 10 desperate patients showed up with a dip in their saturation levels, after failing to locate a hospital bed.

“My mother was gasping for oxygen. She was immediately put on oxygen support here. By evening, we admitted her to a nearby hospital after a bed was declared vacant,” said Nazeer Ahmad (name changed), who was attending to the patient.

At least three patients were taken care of at the facility for the night, with doctors and volunteers working in unison.

It was on the previous Sunday that Kashmir Athrout, a charitable organisation, collaborated with the District Disaster Management Authority, Srinagar, to set up the facility in the Haj Complex.

“It was heartrending and unbearable at times to see pictures and videos emerging from Delhi. The pitiable condition of the patients, lined up on roads and in cars, and eventually dying for as little as 10 litres of oxygen — we decided that such scenes should not emerge from Kashmir,” Bashir Nadwi, chairman, Kashmir Athrout, said.

The ambitious project attracted volunteers from all spheres of society, including doctors. “The beds were set up quickly but getting an oxygen connection to each bed was a process. We hired mechanics who fitted copper pipes and created an oxygen bank by setting up oxygen cylinders in a series. It did work, but flow metres were not available. Finally, we could procure them [flow metres]. The support of the Srinagar administration also made it happen,” Bilal Khan, a volunteer, said.

History was created in the setting up of a mini-hospital with about 100 beds having both high-flow and low-oxygen support.

“It’s a miracle to see a mini-hospital in 72 hours. It will act as a transient facility till beds are available at a tertiary care hospital. Patients with mild disease and requiring low-flow oxygen support can be admitted here. It will help decongest the precious beds in tertiary care facilities,” said Dr. Talib Khan, Associate Professor, Cardiovascular and Thoracic Anaesthesia, Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), who volunteered to plan the project.

SKIMS, Kashmir’s leading tertiary care facility, like other hospitals in Srinagar is struggling to cope with the rush of patients. The hospital’s website did not have any vacant beds for COVID-19 patients at the time of writing; the number of available ICU beds had come down to three. On Saturday, official figures showed that the Chest Disease Hospital, also at the forefront of treating COVID-19 patients, had only one bed left.

In the past one week, J&K has recorded an exponential rise in people testing positive on a daily basis. The UT has 44,307 active positive cases at present and around 50 patients die on a daily basis.

According to covidkashmir, a portal tracking the pandemic in J&K, Case Fatality Rate in J&K has jumped from 0.5% in March to 1.26% in May. “For every 100 confirmed cases, around one patient has passed away,” it said. The recovery rate has also fallen to 77.33%, it added.

“J&K on an average sees 3,500 daily cases in Kashmir, which is not a good trend. The statistics suggest that cases are increasing each passing day. The number of severe cases are also increasing manifold. Cases of children contracting the virus are being reported frequently, too,” said Dr. Salim Khan, Head of Department, Community Medicine, Government Medical College, Srinagar.

Dr. Khan said the mutant strain, N440K, which has been found in the Kashmir division, spreads 10 times faster and is infecting entire families.

However, Mr. Nadwi, whose volunteers help patients at the Haj Complex facility, said, “I am praying that the facility is not required at all and the curve flattens as soon as possible. And we all return to our normal days.”

Mr. Nadwi’s said his organisation has provided help to over 7,000 patients since the pandemic broke out in March 2020, and they were running one of the biggest oxygen banks to support patients at their homes.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 2:47:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/coronavirus-100-bed-covid-19-hospital-comes-up-in-srinagar/article34515921.ece

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