Delhi’s Moolchand hospital, one of the prominent Covid facilities of the city, on Saturday took to Twitter to plead with the government to replenish its oxygen, saying they only had supplies enough to last about two hours. The hospital has over 135 Covid patients, many of whom are on life support.
“We are desperate, have tried all the nodal officer numbers but unable to connect,” Moolchand Healthcare wrote on Twitter, tagging Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal.
NDTV reported that the hospital’s Medical director, Madhu Handa, broke down over phone as she gave details about the crisis to the channel.
“We are down to around 30 minutes [of oxygen supply] at the moment but yes, cognisance has been taken and nodal officers have responded,” she said. “But I think there are other hospitals facing similar challenge. So they now have to prioritise.”
Handa said she had been scrambling for supplies since 4 am. “It is really bad,” she added. “We have retained all our night staff, called in additional people just so we ensure that we save as many lives as possible.”
While authorities, Handa said, have rushed into action, the hospital was worried whether the supply will reach on time. “We are keeping our fingers crossed,” she said.
Delhi’s healthcare system is buckling under pressure with an unprecedented surge in Covid cases, making the Capital the worst-affected city in the country. The crisis has led to an acute shortage of medical oxygen, with patients dying outside hospitals waiting for their turn to receive critical care.
On Friday, Max Hospital, a major private hospital chain in the Capital, had also tweeted that one of its facilities had one hour’s oxygen supply in its system and had been waiting for replenishment since early morning. Two days earlier, they had moved the Delhi High Court saying they were running out of oxygen, endangering the lives of 400 patients, of which 262 were being treated for Covid-19.
Over the past week, several other hospitals in the Capital have complained they were running dangerously low on oxygen. Replenishments have arrived since, but the crisis is far from averted.
“This is a never-ending thing… it happens every day,” Handa told NDTV. “We just have to keep going and it is overwhelming, and it is very depressing.”
Earlier this week, the Centre had announced that the Indian Railways will run special trains to supply oxygen to states and Union Territories, as several of them are facing a shortage. The “Oxygen Express”made its first stoppage in Maharashtra’s Nagpur on Friday evening.
The Centre has also decided to prohibit supply of oxygen for industrial purposes, in order to divert the stock for medical use. But as per an analysis by Scroll.in, India’s daily requirement of medical oxygen is currently more than double the amount that has been exempted from industrial use – 4,600 metric tonnes. And the country may run out of stocks in a few weeks even if all industrial oxygen is diverted to medical use.