PUNE: In an indication that the healthcare system in Maharashtra might get overwhelmed in the coming days because of the huge rise in the COVID-19 cases, a civic-run hospital near Pune is forced to set up a ‘triage’ facility outside to provide oxygen support to patients as the available number of oxygenated beds remained occupied.
Pune district reported a record 12,494 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the overall tally to 5,74,829, the third consecutive day when new case addition peaks were touched, according to an official.
With the number of cases rising sharply in Pune district, there is a shortage of beds in hospitals.
A senior official said the Yashwantrao Chavan Memorial Hospital (YCMH) in Pimpri Chinchwad city reached the “threshold of available oxygenated beds” on Sunday, forcing authorities to set up a medical triage area outside the facility.
“Out of the 432 beds available for COVID-19 patients at the hospital, 55 are ICU beds and the rest are oxygenated beds. As the hospital on Sunday reached the threshold of the number of the oxygenated beds available, and to provide immediate relief to patients, authorities have created a triage area outside the hospital where five beds are kept,” said Dr Rajendra Wable, Dean, YCMH.
In medical parlance, a triage area or a station is set up when hospitals sort out priorities to treat people according to their need for emergency medical attention to determine who gets care first.
“Till the time, the paperwork is completed and the bed is made available to patients inside the YCMH hospital or any other COVID-19 facility, patients are being asked to remain in the triage area and oxygen support is provided as immediate relief,” said Wable.
He said there was nothing wrong with providing such support in triage areas.
“Till 3.30 pm on Sunday, three patients were given the oxygen support at the triage area as they were waiting to get beds inside the facility or at any other hospital,” Wable added.
Meanwhile, the Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) dashboards showed that beds were not available in the civic and private hospitals under the category of the ICU beds with ventilator as on 8 PM on Sunday.
The requirement of oxygen cylinders for treating COVID-19 patients has gone up by about three times in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad district, officials said on Sunday.
The district administration has also initiated steps to increase the oxygen storage capacity in hospitals here and has asked contractors to pace up the work, a health department official told PTI.
With the number of active COVID-19 cases reaching 15,341 in the district, the demand for oxygen supply has also gone up in hospitals and by patients in home isolation, another official said.
“The oxygen consumption in the district was 17. 10 ton per day on March 14. It has now gone up to 49. 50 ton per day,” an official from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said.
The rates have been capped by the government and oxygen is being supplied at the rate of Rs 15.22 per cubic metre, which is the highest now.
Earlier, the rate came down to Rs 12 when the demand was less, the official said.
The demand of oxygen cylinders in households has also gone up as more home isolation is being advised now, the FDA official said.
Every patient in home isolation may not need oxygen, but many of them are ordering cylinders as a precautionary measure, he said.
Local supplier Abdul Hakim said in January this year, he was supplying about 200 oxygen cylinders to hospitals and households here.
“Now, the demand has gone up to 750 to 800 oxygen cylinders per month. To meet the rising demand, we need to run our facilities round-the-clock, which has raised our expenses,” he said.
Hence, the rate for refilling an oxygen cylinder has also gone up by nearly Rs 50, he said.
An oxygen cylinder of 7.5 cubic metre capacity was earlier refilled for Rs 230.
The price has now gone up to Rs 280, he said.
Earlier, the deposit to be paid at the time of buying an oxygen cylinder was Rs 7,000, which has now reached Rs 10,000, Hakim said.
The hike is due to extra labour cost, transportation charges and running of the oxygen supply facilities round-the- clock, he added.
An official from the district Civil Hospital said the private and government medical facilities here have a total of 2,124 oxygen beds and 532 ICU beds.
“Out of 840 beds in government-run health centres in the district, nearly 350 have oxygen facility. The remaining beds will also have the oxygen facility in about 10 days,” civil surgeon Dr Sundar Kulkarni said.
He said they may require around 78 KL (kilo litre) of oxygen per day at the peak of the viral infection here, for which preparations are underway.
“We need 32 cylinders of 7.5 cubic metre each in 24 hours at the civil hospital, which is second largest facility to treat COVID-19 patients here (after the Government College and Hospital). In January this year, the requirement was 10 to 15 such cylinders,” he said.
As of now, there are 106 oxygen beds and 25 ventilator beds in the civil hospital, Kulkarni said.
The district administration has demanded 150 ventilators – 100 for the Government Medical College and Hospital and 50 for the civil hospital, another official said.
On Saturday, 1,394 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the district, taking the infection count to 86,981, an official said.
The district also recorded 21 deaths due to the viral infection on Saturday, raising the toll to 1,758.
So far, 69,882 patients have recovered from the infection, the official added.