Patient relatives allege mismanagement; CM calls for emergency meeting tomorrow
Chamarajanagar: Over 24 COVID-19 patients died in Chamarajanagar and according to the District Administration as many as 12 patients died due to lack of oxygen as the hospital ran short of supply of the critical gas and other patients died due to various co-morbidities. The deaths occurred at COVID-19 Health Centre in the District where the patients were being treated.
The District Administration has also said that only a proper death audit would reveal whether the patients died due to oxygen shortage or due to other reasons. Following the deaths, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa has asked Chamarajanagar District Minister Suresh Kumar and Health and Medical Education Minister Dr. K. Sudhakar to rush to the District and take stock of the situation.
The State Government has ordered a probe into the deaths and has asked senior IAS Officer and KSRTC Managing Director Shivayogi Kalasad to investigate and submit a report within three days. The Chief Minister has also summoned an emergency meeting tomorrow (May 4) evening in the backdrop of Chamarajanagar incident and severe shortage of oxygen across Karnataka.
There are 24 ventilators, 53 ICU beds and 55 oxygenated beds in Chamarajanagar and last midnight, several patients called up their relatives over phone to report oxygen shortage. A relative of a journalist called up the scribe at around 12.30 am and said that patients were gasping for breath and several patient attendees repeatedly waved towels inside the wards in a desperate attempt to produce fresh air.
MP Pratap Simha mobilises Oxygen
This, however, did not help. The journalist then alerted Mysuru-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha who used his good offices and rushed 50 jumbo oxygen cylinders in coordination with Mysuru Additional DC Manjunathaswamy to Chamarajanagar and the cylinders landed at 2.30 am. However, by the time oxygen cylinders arrived at the hospital, 12 deaths were reported.
Hospital authorities told Star of Mysore on condition of anonymity that more deaths could have occurred if the 50 cylinders sent by Pratap Simha had not arrived.
Delay in supply: Chamarajanagar DC
Initially, the Chamarajanagar Deputy Commissioner Dr. M.R. Ravi stated that oxygen cylinders to the District were supplied from Mysuru and there was a shortage as the Mysuru District authorities delayed the supplies. “Several COVID and non-COVID patients have died and there was a delay in oxygen supply from Mysuru. The deaths have occurred due to a combination of COVID infections and oxygen shortage,” the DC said.
No delay: Mysuru DC
Moments after this statement, Mysuru Deputy Commissioner Rohini Sindhuri clarified that there was no delay in oxygen supplies. In a media statement through the District Information Department, the DC has said that till last night 12.30, 250 oxygen cylinders were sent to Chamarajanagar from Mysuru.
“Liquid Oxygen had to come to Chamarajanagar from Ballari and we are not sure if that consignment has come or not. As per the request from Chamarajanagar, oxygen cylinders have been sent from Mysuru on humanitarian grounds. There has been no delay in oxygen supply from Mysuru and we have a record that supports our claim that 210 cylinders were sent from Southern Gas, Mysuru and 40 oxygen cylinders were sent from Mysuru District Hospital,” the DC’s statement said.
New oxygen plant
Chamarajanagar Hospital sources said that last Friday, a Liquid Medical Oxygen plant was inaugurated at the hospital but the plant can store oxygen that can cater to the needs of the patients only for two days. The 6,000-litre capacity oxygen plant on the hospital premises can sustain the oxygen needs for 1.5 days, and they ran out last evening.
Meanwhile, family members and patient relatives who reached the Chamarajanagar hospital were inconsolable on hearing the news of deaths due to oxygen shortage. They alleged mismanagement on the part of the administration and the elected representatives. The relatives alleged that there is a severe shortage of ambulances to even carry the dead to the crematoriums.
MLA Puttarangashetty who arrived at the hospital along with DC Dr. Ravi was mobbed by the relatives of the patients who alleged negligence. Later speaking to newsmen, Puttarangashetty alleged that oxygen shortage led to the death of many patients. “They died due to lack of oxygen. I am in touch with the State Chief Secretary and I am demanding that Chamarajanagar’s quota of oxygen supplies, medical equipment and ambulances must be fulfilled immediately,” he said.
Not all deaths due to oxygen shortage: Chamarajanagar DC
As the reports of over 24 patients dying due to alleged oxygen shortage, Chamarajanagar Deputy Commissioner Dr. M.R. Ravi appealed to the media not to portray the COVID deaths due to lack of oxygen.
“A total of 24 deaths have happened between Sunday morning and Monday (today) morning. While 23 have died in the district hospital, one person has died at Holy Cross hospital, Kamagere. We cannot say that all patients have died due to lack of oxygen.” Doctors at the district hospital confirmed that 12 deaths were due to shortage of oxygen while others succumbed to various co-morbid conditions,” the DC clarified.
“Up to last midnight, 14 deaths were reported, three deaths till 3 am and 7 deaths up to today morning 7 am. Of the 24 patients who died, 18 were in critical condition even before reaching the hospital. While 23 patients were on ventilator support, 70 oxygen cylinders were supplied from 10.30 pm to 00.30 hours and 60 cylinders reached Chamarajanagar in the morning. However, it is showcased as death caused due to lack of oxygen,” Dr. Ravi claimed.
Minister, MP react
Chamarajanagar District Minister S. Suresh Kumar, who is rushing to the District along with Health and Medical Education Minister Dr. K. Sudhakar, told reporters in Bengaluru that he had visited the District and had taken stock of the situation.
“Every life is precious and any death brings us intense grief. We have sought report on the deaths and the audit report is likely to come by today afternoon. We will initiate action against whoever is responsible for this.” Suresh Kumar said. The Minister also pointed that in most of the cases people were coming to the hospital at the last stage and not all deaths have occurred due to oxygen shortage.
Meanwhile, Mysuru-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha, who ensured that 50 oxygen cylinders were rushed to Chamarajanagar last midnight, told reporters in Mysuru his morning that the deaths in Chamarajanagar hospital was unfortunate. “The Chamarajanagar District Administration could have been more cautious regarding oxygen supplies and requirement. I learnt about the shortage through my media contacts in Mysuru and immediately 50 jumbo cylinders were rushed there,” he said.