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Just Hours of Oxygen Left: Two Bengaluru Hospitals Sound SOS 

Distress calls by hospitals in Bengaluru seeking urgent supply of oxygen have increased in the past few days.

Published
COVID-19
3 min read
Distress calls by hospitals in Bengaluru seeking urgent supply of oxygen have increased in the past few days.
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Distress calls by hospitals in Bengaluru seeking urgent supply of oxygen have increased in the past few days.

On May 3, Medax Hospital, a private hospital in Bengaluru’s RT Nagar, and Rajarajeshwari Medical College and Hospital located on Mysuru Road, said that their oxygen supply can last only hours. On the afternoon of May 3, Medax Hospital said that it had oxygen supply only till 5 pm and the Medical Director wrote to a patient asking them to make arrangements at a different hospital.

“This is to inform you that we are running out of oxygen supply, we are unable to collect oxygen care for the patient. We have been informing since 01/05/2021, 6:00 pm. We will shortly run out of oxygen by 03/05/2021 5pm. Kindly arrange for beds in different hospitals. We regret this situation. And request you to co-operate in view of patient well being (sic),” the letter by Dr Srihari Shapur, Medical Director of the hospital, read.

A photograph of the letter to the patient was tweeted by multiple users, including former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, calling upon the Bengaluru civic body and the state government’s attention.

Not only Medax, Rajarajeshwari Hospital on Mysuru Road, which had around 100 patients, too, issued a distress request seeking medical oxygen.

Shortly after, TNM learnt that after an intervention by Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister Ashwathnarayan, who is the chief of the state-level task force for COVID-19, oxygen cylinders were provided to the two hospitals. The MD of Medax hospital told TNM that they had received around 15 oxygen cylinders. Rajarajeshwari Hospital said they had received 20 oxygen cylinders after intervention by Deputy Commissioner of Ramanagara district.

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“I have been getting a lot of assurance from a lot of people since I asked for help. Shifa Hospital (Shivajinagar) has given me around 20 cylinders. I need four liquid oxygen dura cylinders and 60 jumbo cylinders daily. Till now, we had been meeting this need from two distributors – one based in Hosur and the other in Peenya. But since last week, we have been having interruption in our supply as the vendors are not able to cater to the increase in demand,”  MD of  Dr Srihari Shapur of Medax Hospital told TNM.

He added, “Other than oxygen, shortage of cylinders is an issue as we are not able to procure them. Earlier, we could manage with 10-15 cylinders, but now, since the past month, we have been requiring 180-200 cylinders. Till today, we have been able to manage.”

Mercy Mission, which has been answering hundreds of SOS messages for oxygen and COVID-19 drugs, told TNM that they had received a distress call on April 29 from Railway Hospital in Bengaluru. It said it was down to the last three hours of its oxygen stock and 50 COVID-19 patients, including 15 in the intensive care unit (ICU), were at risk. A team of volunteers then helped move some cylinders to the hospital.

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24 Patients Die Due to Oxygen Shortage

This came on a day 24 COVID-19 patients died due to an interruption in oxygen supply at Chamarajanagar Institute of Medical Sciences (CIMS) in Karnataka's Chamarajanagar district. The Director of CIMS earlier told TNM that because of a shortage of oxygen between midnight and 2 am, patients needing high-flow oxygen died. Out of the 24 who died, 18 had been suffering from comorbidities and had long-standing problems. The Karnataka government has ordered a probe into the incident and has sought a report in three days.

The first alarm bells were rung two weeks ago by Bangalore Institute of Gastroenterology (BIG) in Jayanagar. Doctors at the hospital decided to transfer out three of the eight COVID-19 patients in the ICU of the hospital, owing to shortage of oxygen.

(This copy was first published on The News Minute and has been republished here with permission.)

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