Bracing for a possible third wave of coronavirus, several private hospitals in Delhi have started installing their own oxygen generation plants to avoid a repeat of the oxygen crisis the city witnessed during the second wave.
These include Jaipur Golden Hospital and Batra Hospital, where patients had died due to oxygen shortage during the peak of the second wave of the pandemic.
Recently, the Directorate General of Health Services had asked all private hospitals having 100 or more beds to install their own Pressure Swing Absorption (PSA) oxygen plants, refilling plants or create any other infrastructure to produce at least two times their normal requirement of oxygen.
Hospitals and nursing homes having 50 to 99 beds have been asked to create an infrastructure enough to meet their normal requirement of oxygen.
Dr P K Bhardwaj, the executive director of Saroj Super Speciality, said the 250-bed private facility got an oxygen generation plant installed around 10 days ago.
“With the installation of oxygen generation plants at most hospitals, the load on vendors supplying liquid medical oxygen will reduce and these will be able to cater to smaller hospitals,” he said.
Dr DK Baluja, the medical director of Jaipur Golden Hospital, where 20 critically-ill COVID-19 patients died due to oxygen shortage on April 24, said a PSA plant at the premises will be operational in three months, tentatively.
The hospital has an LMO storage tank, too, and it will continue to receive supplies from the vendor, he said.
“The LMO will remain the backbone. The PSA plant is being added to avert a crisis,” Dr Bajula said.
Sudhanshu Bankata, the executive director of the 500-bed Batra Hospital, which lost eight lives due to oxygen shortage on May 1, said the facility is in the process of shortlisting a credible vendor.
“We have started the process. The problem is that so many firms have cropped up in the last few weeks. They do not have a reliable history. So, one has to do due diligence and see that all the basics are covered,” he said.
Bankata said the hospital has sought a few months from the health department to install their PSA plant. “It is going to take some time but we are very much on the job,” he said.
Dr A C Shukla, the medical director of the 210-bed Mata Chanan Devi Hospital, said it was necessary to set up PSA plants at every hospital considering the crisis Delhi faced during the second wave.
“We have started the process. The only thing is that many hospitals have placed orders with fabricators simultaneously and many parts are imported from outside India. So, it may take a couple of months. It will be ready by August,” he said.
The hospital has also decided to increase the LMO storage capacity from 5,000 litres to 10,000 litres. “We will use the PSA plant to fulfil the needs of our wards, LMO will be used in the ICU,” the officials said.
However, some smaller hospitals are struggling to create space and arrange funds to install PSA plants.
Kaustubh Mani Tiwari, head marketing, Rathi Hospital in Najafgarh said installing a PSA plant is a cost-intensive task.
“Not everyone has space, manpower and funds for such a task. Then, one needs multiple no objection certificates for it. So, installing a PSA plant is not an easy thing,” he said.
Tiwari added that the recent crisis arose out of LMO shortage and hospitals will still need it in addition to the supply from their PSA plant.
The 101-bed hospital has earmarked 80 beds for COVID-19 patients.
An official from 50-bed Oncoplus Hospital on Panchkuian Road said space and budget is a big problem and hospital management has been holding discussions to resolve these issues.
As part of the preparation against the third wave, Delhi government-run hospitals are also installing PSA plants.
On Saturday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal inaugurated 22 oxygen generator plants, with a capacity of 17 tonnes, at nine Delhi hospitals, saying his government is preparing to tackle a possible third wave on a “war footing”.
Delhi required 700 metric tonnes (MT) of oxygen in a day during the second wave as compared to 150 MT on other days.
The government has also decided to install 19 oxygen storage plants. Three such plants, with a combined capacity of 171 MT, have already been installed at Sirsapur, Babasaheb Ambedkar Hospital and DDU Hospital.
A government spokesperson had earlier said Delhi will buy 25 oxygen tankers and create an oxygen storage capacity of 420 tonnes to meet any future needs.
The government is also in talks with the IGL for setting up of a 150-tonne oxygen production plant.