By Gaurav Saini :
AT THE Saroj Super Specialty Hospital in Delhi, distraught staff broke down and started praying anxiously as the lives of over 100 patients hung by a thread with oxygen supply rapidly depleting. The nurses, paramedics and others at the private hospital had spent hours running around in search of supplies and making frantic calls to the Government and police, but to no avail. And then hope arose as an oxygen tanker finally reached the hospital. But then arose another problem. The tanker could not enter the area where the hospital’s oxygen tank is. The problem: its larger-than-normal size. The solution: an excavator, which broke down a portion of a ramp to allow the tanker to drive through. The dramatic scenes began to unfold as the hospital ran out of oxygen on Saturday. The situation was tense over fears of an impending tragedy similar to the one at the Jaipur Golden Hospital.
“We really didn’t know what to do,” Pankaj Chawla, the owner of the hospital, said. “This was the time we started discharging patients. We told families that we don’t have oxygen and they can take their patients to some other healthcare facilities,” Chawla said. The hospital discharged 34 patients during this time. “Most of the patients said, ‘we will stay... it’s the same situation everywhere. Let’s see what happens’,” Chawla said. The hospital went to the High Court to get an order for urgent relief. By the time the order comes and gets implemented, things were changing every minute, according to advocate Prab Sahay Kaur, who represented the hospital in the court.
The facility borrowed oxygen cylinders from various healthcare facilities. Later, the Government allotted a tanker to it on a sharing basis. “The tanker came to the hospital, but it was so big that it couldn’t get into the area where our LMO (liquid medical oxygen) tank is,” Chawla said. “We started breaking down a wall and a ramp with electric jackhammers and whatever we had, but it was taking time and the tanker had to go to the Tirath Ram Shah Hospital.” “That’s the time everybody thought nothing can save us. All of us, my doctors, my staff started crying. We were running out of luck, too,” Chawla recalled.
In a desperate bid, the hospital staff and some police personnel rushed to get some cylinders filled. “In the meantime, we called the Mayor, fire department... brought in a JCB (excavator), which broke a portion of the wall and the ramp,” Chawla said. Police brought the tanker back after delivering oxygen at the Tirath Ram Shah Hospital. “It could’ve been another Jaipur Golden tragedy, perhaps of a bigger size... All this time, the families were there, helping us,” Chawla said.