Amid a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in Jammu, reports of a shortage of oxygen supply at the Government Medical College (GMC), Jammu, has sparked panic among patients. Families of certain patients have taken to social media, asking the administration to intervene in the matter.
Notably, as per official data, the highest number of single-day cases (875) were reported from Jammu last evening. There were 811 recorded COVID-19 cases from Kashmir Division, taking the total tally of cases in the Union Territory to 54,096 on Sunday evening. With the increase in the number of cases, a greater number of patients are being taken to hospitals. As a result, the oxygen supply has suffered.
A father and daughter duo from the Gandhi Nagar area of Jammu had tested positive for COVID-19 on August 23, and were shifted to GMC hospital. The woman, who has now tested negative and is at home, elaborated on the “horrible” experience in which she saw patients lying on the floor.
“What I saw was horrendous. I saw patients lying on the floor of the isolation ward because of the lack of beds. At about midnight, I went to check on my father as I was unable to sleep. It was then that I realised that there was no oxygen. I kept shouting for help but no one came for the next 15 minutes. I saw a patient’s pulse dropping in front of me. I can never forget it,” she told NewsClick.
The woman added that the hospital had a dearth of medical staff as she did not see a senior doctor in the 15 days she was isolated at the hospital. “There were only two doctors on duty in the morning and two in the evening. They would rarely enter the ward until we cried for help,” she added.
A woman by the name of Jyotsna Kohli took to Twitter to post about the death of her father-in-law due to the lack of oxygen supply. Her tweet read: “I am from Jammu and want to request you to please do something for Jammu province as COVID is not being handled properly in Jammu. I just lost my father-in-law due to no medical facility. Doctors are not available in GMC to treat COVID patients. No oxygen supply (sic).”
In another tweet, she wrote that even “small children and young people are dying because of no medical facility, no staff in GMC Jammu, no oxygen supply. Please do something (sic).”
In yet another tweet, a man named Farooq Amin wrote on September 8 that the oxygen supply “in COVID wards of GMC Jammu has stopped since yesterday night.” He added that an alternate supply was needed else patients would be in danger, saying that an intervention by the health department was needed else the situation would prove to be “fatal”.
NewsClick spoke to Dr. Deepak Kumar, the medical superintendent at GMC Jammu. He dismissed the claims made by patients saying there was “an adequate supply of oxygen at the hospital”.
He said that the “capacity” of their system was less as compared to the demand but that had been rectified. “There was no dearth of oxygen supply yesterday. I can assure you that we are working on it and we will fill whatever gaps exist,” he added.
Commenting on the status of ventilators and beds in the COVID-wards, Dr. Kumar said that the facility has 203 beds with 32 in the isolation ward and 50 functional ventilators in the hospital.
However, a maintenance engineer from the hospital accepted that there indeed had been a problem. “Yes, there was lack of oxygen supply but now it has been sorted out. Our vendors were not supplying oxygen regularly but after a bit of pressure they restored it,” he added.