By Shyam Sundar Vattam
The importance of oxygen was understood when Corona positive patients in serious condition scrambled for oxygenated beds both in Government and Private Hospitals. A number of patients died of breathlessness due to non-availability of oxygen.
More than doing other things, first thing the State Government did was to install Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) Storage Tanks at Hospitals run by Medical Colleges to treat COVID-19 patients.
When K.R. Hospital, popularly known as Doddaspathre, run by Mysore Medical College and Research Institute (MMC&RI), was flooded with Corona positive patients not only from city and district but also from neighbouring districts like Chamarajanagar, Kodagu and Mandya, the authorities faced problems to arrange oxygenated beds to all. The demand for oxygen shot up as Influenza Like Illness (ILI) and Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI) cases came in hordes looking out for oxygenated beds. Understanding the seriousness of situation, the State Government decided to set up LMO Tank at MMC&RI with 13 Kilo Litre (KL) capacity to meet the demand.
In a chat with Star of Mysore, Dr. C.P. Nanjaraj, Dean and Director, Mysore Medical College and Research Institute (MMC&RI), shared its utility for both COVID and non-COVID patients. Excerpts. — Ed
Star of Mysore: Why did the State Government set up Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) Storage Tank in MMC&RI and what are its utilities?
Dr. C.P. Nanjaraj: The necessity of oxygen was felt during June, July, August and September when COVID-19 situation went out of control. The Corona positive cases outnumbered the medical facilities and patients literally begged for oxygenated beds to save their lives. Apart from city and district, even patients from neighbouring districts like Kodagu, Chamarajanagar, Mandya and Hassan came to Mysuru for treatment. Naturally, the existing number of beds was not sufficient to treat new cases.
At that time, the healthcare had literally crumbled to meet with the growing demand of patients. Seeing a spurt in cases, the State Government decided to set up LMO on priority at three Medical College Hospitals — Mysuru, Chamarajanagar and Kodagu. The project was put on fast track to complete as early as possible in the interest of patients.
Star of Mysore: What is the daily requirement of oxygen in MMC&RI-run Hospitals?
Dr. Nanjaraj: The regular requirement of oxygen was 1.3 Kilo Litre per day but now it was around 4.4 KL because of COVID-19 patients. The designated COVID Care Centre has 170 beds and most of them are oxygenated. Apart from COVID patients, oxygen is also supplied to Stone Building Block, Cheluvamba Hospital and other K.R. Hospital Blocks. In fact, non-Covid patients required only 1.4 KL of oxygen every day. Till recently, the Covid Block was filled with patients, most of them being ILI and SARI patients who required oxygen regularly. Now, hardly 20 persons are under treatment in Covid Block at K.R. Hospital.
Star of Mysore: Explain the salient features of LMO Unit?
Dr. Nanjaraj: The new LMO Unit is going to replace Dura Liquid Cylinders of 200 litres capacity that needed replacement once in six hours. A technician was posted to have a continuous watch on the cylinders and replace them once they become empty as hundreds of patients will be on ventilator support 24×7.
The advantage of LMO is that its total capacity is 13 KL but can be filled up to 10 KL as it will get expanded by 3 KL later.
It will take care of requirement of Covid patients for almost a week and over 15 days of non-covid patients.
The liquid oxygen is manufactured in a few factories at Ballari from where the oxygen carrying truck will come and refill the LMO Tank on a regular basis. Henceforth, there will be no problem of placing order for the cylinders.
Star of Mysore: Is MMC&RI the only Medical College Hospital in the State to have this LMO Unit?
Dr. Nanjaraj: No. It came very late to this region. Almost all 14 Medical Colleges and Hospitals in North-Karnataka region have LMO faculty since long time. Now, it is being established in Mysuru, Chamarajanagar and Kodagu. Even Mandya and Hassan Medical Colleges and Hospitals have this facility. We are thankful to Health and Medical Education Minister Dr. K. Sudhakar, who took a lot of interest to set up this facility in MMC&RI. Licence to operate LMO Unit came on Thursday. Process of giving connection to all four Hospital Blocks is on and the Unit will become functional in next two to three days. With this there will be no shortage of oxygen for both COVID and non-COVID patients.
Star of Mysore: How many beds are connected with oxygenated beds?
Dr. Nanjaraj: In all, 950 beds are oxygenated beds not only in Covid Wing but also in non-Covid sections in three Hospitals, Operation Theatres, ICU, ICCU and other emergency wings. Initially, the MMC&RI wanted to convert the entire K.R. Hospital for Covid treatment to which the then Deputy Commissioner Abhiram G. Sankar suggested to keep a Block reserved for non-Covid patients too. But the idea was changed due to spurt in cases. As many as 170 beds were reserved for Corona positive patients and new Covid Hospitals were opened to deal with the growing number of cases. Naturally, the demand for oxygenated beds too increased forcing the Government to provide LMO for K.R. Hospital.
Star of Mysore: What are the specifications to establish an LMO?
Dr. Nanjaraj: Before installation, officials from Chennai came for inspection. According to them, the proposed spot for LMO should be 100 metres away from Petrol Bunk, a safe distance from main road and others. All the specifications were duly met by the MMC&RI authorities. The spot for erecting the LMO tank was also suggested by officials. They visited recently for the final inspection and licence has been issued to MMC&RI to operate this Unit. The licence is valid for one year and will be renewed only after inspection next year. They have strict guidelines as it concerned the lives of hundreds of patients in Hospitals.
Star of Mysore: When will this facility be ready for use?Dr.Nanjaraj: It is almost ready and the pipeline connection to Hospitals is in final stages. If everything goes well, it will be operated in next two to three days.