City hospitals stare at shortage of COVID beds, medical oxygen

‘Medical staff overstressed, under tremendous pressure’

SHILLONG, May 7: In what might be termed as a potential cause for alarm for the state government and citizens of the state hospitals in the city are overwhelmed with the unabated surge of COVID-19 patients while some are staring at a possible shortage of medical oxygen.
Majority of the city hospitals have already stretched their resources and manpower to increase their intake of COVID-19 patients and most of them have full bed occupancy in view of the huge number of people testing positive each day.
NEIGRIHMS, the only super-specialty hospital in the state, has been doing its best to assist the state government in the fight against the pandemic despite all super-specialty and specialty OPDs & wards running at their full strength.
The institute has managed to reserve 145 dedicated COVID beds inclusive of oxygen, while also preparing COVID ICU beds with ventilators and life support systems in place.
On Friday, NEIGRIHMS arranged a separate holding ward for those whose RT-PCR results are awaited. Plans are afoot to create more dedicated COVID beds with bedside oxygen supply if the need arises. NEIGRIHMS is readying itself for a further surge in cases, Director P. Bhattacharya said, while informing that presently they can admit 25 critical cases and another 120 with bedside supply of oxygen.
“As of now we have seven patients in the ICU and we have around 30 non-critical patients admitted in NEIGRIHMS,” he said.
He made it clear that if the situation goes from bad to worse the institute will start discharging patients and stop admitting non-COVID patients.
“We have patients from all over Northeast and due to the restrictions patients have stopped coming from other districts,” he added.
Asserting that there is no shortage of medical oxygen, Dr Bhattacharya however warned that the institute might face a problem if there is disruption in supply and interruptions due to restrictions on interstate movement.
Chief Medical Officer of Nazareth Hospital, Dr. G. Rangad said that they are planning to increase the intake of COVID-19 patients to 100. “We have created more separate wards. We are increasing our intake of COVID-19 patients. As of yesterday, we had around 77 patients and today we have around 68 patients,” Dr. Rangad said adding that the ventilator beds were fully occupied.
He however said that they are yet to face the problem of shortage of medical oxygen since they have adequate stock of liquid oxygen.
“But our health staff are overstressed. We are under tremendous pressure since cases have surged from 30 cases to 70 in a single day,” the CMO said.
Dr. Rangad asked the government to find ways to create more beds for COVID patients to ease the burden on the city hospitals.
Medical Specialist of Dr. H Gordon Roberts Hospital, Dr. Meban Kharkongor said that the hospital at present can admit 40 COVID patients. “We are planning to increase our intake since we understand the gravity of the situation. We currently have 39 COVID-19 patients out of whom some critical cases are in the ICU,” he said.
Stating that they cannot just admit patients if they are not able to take care of them, he said that they will take a call on increasing their intake depending on the staff strength. “All the staff are stressed and under tremendous pressure,” Dr Kharkongor said.
He also informed that the hospital is staring at the problem of shortage of medical oxygen since the requirement is huge.
Senior Medical Officer of Woodland Hospital, Dr. PW Nongrum said that the number of COVID patients at the hospital is increasing rapidly in spite of discharging 4-5 recovered patients every day. “We have increased our intake to 20 and an entire floor has been converted into a dedicated COVID ward. Now, all our beds are occupied sans one,” Dr. Nongrum said.
According to him, the hospital authorities have decided to shift non-COVID patients from the ICU and convert it into a COVID-only unit.
“We will only admit COVID patients of C & D categories (symptomatic and critical) in the ICU including those who require ventilator support. It will take some before we are able to shift all patients from the ICU,” he said. Dr. Nongrum also admitted that they were facing some problem with supply of medical oxygen. “We have around 20 oxygen cylinders which we have to refill every day but the requirement is huge. Our supplier is getting the oxygen from Guwahati,” he added.
Bethany Hospital spokesperson, Dr Kyntiewlang Sanmiet informed that 42 patients are admitted at the hospital and their maximum capacity is 50.
Out of 42 patients, there are six critical cases, 28 are being provided with medical oxygen while the remaining eight are moderate cases.
According to him, the hospital is not facing any shortage of medical oxygen. “However, the consumption of medical oxygen this time is huge. We are refilling oxygen from Guwahati on a daily basis. The supply is good in Guwahati and we are not facing any obstacles on the way,” he said.
Pointing out that the situation this time is much more critical as compared to last year, Dr Sanmiet urged the general public to be very vigilant to prevent the situation from spiralling out of control.

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