Tamil Nadu

Major private hospitals in Chennai keep a watch on oxygen supply

Logo of Apollo Hospitals. File   | Photo Credit: MOORTHY M

Major private hospitals in Chennai are keeping a close watch on their oxygen supply. Faced with last-minute supplies, some are feeling the heat and are apprehensive about an oxygen shortage in the coming weeks.

The steady rise in daily COVID-19 cases has led to an increase in infrastructural requirements in hospitals, with beds and oxygen supply being the most crucial.

Navin Gnanasekaran, associate director of medical services, MGM Healthcare, said, “So far, oxygen supply is holding. Day to day, we are getting information from our biomedical department that vendors are supplying at the last minute. We are expecting severe oxygen shortage in Chennai within the next 10 to 15 days. Unless we can bring down the active cases by way of a lockdown, it is going to be a supply versus demand problem.”

‘Situation may worsen’

Though there was no oxygen shortage right now, hospitals are receiving supply at the last minute, he said, adding, “The situation is all set to worsen. We are anticipating a shortage of oxygen in the future. We are trying to rationalise our use of oxygen and procure oxygen concentrators for ward patients. The best concentrators can give eight to 10 litres of oxygen. Anybody with a higher requirement cannot be managed with concentrators.”

An official at a hospital, on the condition of anonymity, said, “It is a nail-biting wait for the truck.”

On average, the hospital has 150 to 170 patients on oxygen support. “Trucks to refill the liquid oxygen tanks do not come on time, putting pressure on us. Delay will send patients into desaturation. So, we are not taking too many patients requiring oxygen. We can take more if we have more supply,” he said.

“The government should ensure that oxygen supply is increased and Remdesivir is available for private hospitals. Non-availability of Remdesivir is a setback. We have to send the patients’ attenders with a prescription to government medical college hospitals to get Remdesivir,” the official said.

Santy Sajan, chief operating officer, Apollo Hospitals, Chennai, in a written reply to The Hindu, said, “We are grateful to the State authorities and local associates for ensuring regular and timely supplies of oxygen for the smooth running of operations at all our hospitals. We are closely monitoring the requirement of oxygen and other essential supplies as we enhance our critical bed capacity for extending care to our patients.”

P. Ramakrishnan, State president of the Indian Medical Association - Tamil Nadu, said that with the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, more admissions were expected. “There is a need for uninterrupted and prompt supply of oxygen for private hospitals. If the supply is increased, we will be trouble-free,” he said.

Availability of beds, Remdesivir and vaccines were among the other issues facing hospitals. At one hospital, all COVID-19 beds — wards, intensive care and holding area in the emergency room — were full. “We have another 50 to 60 patients requiring intensive care and ventilator-supported beds waiting, and another 50 to 60 patients in the waiting list for ward beds,” a hospital authority said.

“We are unable to accommodate many patients. Our doctors, nurses and other staff and equipment are stretched out to take care of these many beds. Anything beyond will stretch our resources. Most of the doctors are heading for a burnout,” he added.

Dr. Gnanasekaran said Chennai would require at least 1,000 more ward beds and at least 200 more intensive care beds with all necessary equipment and manpower to handle the crisis for the next two months. “Our only hope is a lockdown for Chennai for at least 20 days, like in Maharashtra, to bring down the transmission,” he said.

Vaccination had come to a standstill in some private hospitals. The government should ensure that vaccination is carried out in full swing, a senior doctor said.

Ms. Sajan pointed out that they have ensured that currently over 50% of beds were dedicated for COVID care and they were geared up to further step up if required.

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Printable version | Jun 25, 2021 1:10:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/major-private-hospitals-in-chennai-keep-an-eye-on-the-oxygen-supply/article34494108.ece

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