Tuesday September 21, 2021

Oxygen plant closure at Trauma Centre leads to shifting of dozens of patients to other hospitals

August 05, 2021

Dozens of critically-sick Covid-19 patients undergoing treatment at the SMBB Trauma Center Karachi had to be evacuated and shifted to other hospitals when one of the oxygen generation plants suddenly stopped functioning, Sindh health department officials said on Wednesday but refused to confirm if any inquiry was being carrying out into the incident.

“An emergency situation happened at Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Trauma Centre Karachi on Tuesday night when one of the two oxygen generation plants stopped functioning suddenly. There were dozens of patients on high and low flow oxygen, who had to be shifted to other hospitals in the city to save their lives,” an official of the health department told The News.

The centre is a multi billion-rupee project with an annual budget of billions of rupees, but since its inauguration, the facility has lacked trained healthcare professionals, nursing staff, paramedics and technicians, making it a white elephant of the health department.

The health department official said patients were shifted to the adjoining Civil Hospital Karachi, Sindh Services Hospital and Lyari General Hospital after the oxygen crisis came to the notice of the trauma centre’s administration. They said dozens of Aman Ambulances were called in to shift the patients to other hospitals which were already burdened due to rising admissions of Covid-19 patients.

Officials said that till the filing of this report, work had yet to resume the oxygen supply from the one unit of the Duplex plant. They added that the fault in the oxygenation plant had reduced the trauma centre’s ability to treat seriously-sick patients to half.

It was not clear if any patient had lost life during shifting to other hospitals, but experts said in such circumstances, often the condition of patients on high flow oxygen deteriorated and there were chances of casualties.

Confirming the incident, Sindh Parliamentary Secretary Health MPA Qasim Soomro said that at the moment, all efforts were being made to make the closed oxygen generation plant functional, adding that teams of experts and technicians were working on the plant to restore the oxygen supply.

“At the moment, all we are striving for is to make the closed oxygen unit functional and get our patients back to the ICU, High Dependency Unit and the wards. Fact-finding and fixing responsibility would be followed and if anyone is found guilty; he or she would not be spared,” he added.

The chief executive officer (CEO) of the Trauma Centre, Dr Sabir Memon, also confirmed the closure of one of the oxygen generation plants and the shifting of patients to other hospitals, but he claimed that “situation is under control”.

It is the second such incident within a month when an oxygen crisis at a tertiary-care health facility compelled the authorities to shift the Covid-19 patients to other hospitals. Four Covid-19 patients had to be shifted from the Sindh Government Hospital Korangi to the Lyari General Hospital after pre-filled oxygen cylinders could not be supplied to the health facility on time.

Health department officials said that in addition to holding an inquiry into incidents where oxygen shortage led to the shifting of patients to other health facilities in Karachi, they had ordered inspections of all the oxygen generation plants and oxygen tanks at hospitals in the province to ensure that no such incident was repeated in the future as hundreds of patients were under treatment at various health facilities in the province.