At least 30 children died in 48 hours Gorakhpur’s BRD Medical College amid allegations that a private contractor stopped supplying oxygen cylinders over a payment dispute.
Even as 90 jumbo oxygen cylinders were pressed into service to maintain the supply on Friday, the hospital ran out of oxygen around 1 am.
As all hell broke loose at the hospital, as many as 50 more oxygen cylinders were brought in around 3.30 am, which also ran dry by 7.30 am. Of the 73 patients in the 100-bed encephalitis ward, 54 were on ventilator when the oxygen supply was disrupted at 7.30 am.
What followed was complete chaos as panic-stricken relatives of patients ran for help, and with the support of hospital staff tried to maintain supply of oxygen through artificial respiration using AMBU (artificial manual breathing unit) bags.
However, several patients started collapsing due inadequate supply. Besides encephalitis ward, the liquid oxygen plant – which was set up two years ago at the hospital – ensures piped oxygen supply to 300 other patients.
Deepankar Sharma of Pushpa Sales, the firm responsible for supplying oxygen to the hospital, said that he had informed the BRD authorities about the Rs 68,58, 596 dues despite the terms and condition of the agreement with the hospital clearly mentioning that arrears would not be more than Rs 10 lakh. As child after child began collapsing due to lack of oxygen, frantic doctors made desperate phone calls to the officials of Pushpa Sales and pleaded for restoration of service.
The hospital management, on the other hand, initiated the process to clear dues of Rs 22 lakh to the company. According to reports, the company officials have agreed to send a liquid oxygen tanker, which would reach hospital either by Saturday evening or by Sunday morning.
This, however, is not the first time the oxygen supply was disrupted by the company.
The company had also cut supply in April last year when its arrears had reached Rs 50 lakh.