At a time when hospitals around the world require ventilators, the Government Medical College, Srinagar returned six such machines, donated by an NGO. The cost of 6 ventilators is around Rs 39 lakh.
“We require ventilators very much but before ventilators, we need space, specific beds for ventilators, anaesthetics, nurses,” says a government official requesting anonymity. Government spokesman, Rohit Kansal didn’t comment on the issue.
For a population of over seven million, the Valley has around 100 ventilators for critically ill patients -- one ventilator per around 71,000 people. Valley’s premier health care institute, Sheri Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, (SKIMS) has 40 ventilators, followed by SMHS hospital with 18 ventilators, and Chest Diseases Hospital, which has 16 Ventilators. Among others, the Children’s hospital has ten, Lal Ded Memorial Maternity Hospital and Bone and Joints Hospital has two.
South Kashmir’s Government Medical College Hospital at Anantnag has two ventilators, while North Kashmir’s GMC Hospital has three. There are four ventilators at District Hospital Handwara. Kupwara and Bandipora district hospitals have no ventilator.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak in the valley, an NGO Athrout, which is known for its work, has focused on providing medical and education support, monthly household support to families whose male members have been left physically challenged. The organization provides ambulance, nebulizers, and oxygen concentration machines free of cost to poor.
The government returned the ventilators to the NGO after issuing a statement saying that there is no dearth of medical equipment in Jammu and Kashmir to tackle the threat of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Health and Medical Education (H&ME) Department said the number of ventilators in J&K currently is 223, of which 91 are in Jammu and 132 in Kashmir and 400 more ventilators have been ordered. The government insists as many as 8893 reagents are available for use in Jammu and Kashmir which are being augmented further.
A critical care anesthesiologist with the health department pleading anonymity says hospitals require high-end ventilators and before having high-end ventilators, the hospitals should have specific beds meant for ventilators, monitors, oxygen supply, suction apparatus, separate stuff including doctor, nurse and nursing orderly.
“If you don’t have required staff and equipment, how can you use the high-end ventilator,” he asked. He says hospitals require all kind of equipment, including high-grade and low-grade ventilators and it was amusing to see them being returned when the government says it has ordered for 400 more ventilators for J&K. “You should have waited for the ventilators to come before returning the six,” he says.
The essential technical features for ventilator for COVID-19 decided by the Technical Committee of DRDO says the machine should be a turbine, compressor-based because the installation sites might not have central oxygen lines. The machine should have Invasive, non-invasive and CPAP features to make them versatile, 200-600 ML tidal volume, lung mechanics display, monitoring of plateau pressure, PEEP, PS, oxygen concentration, lung mechanics, inverse ratio (I: E) and also Continuous working capability for four to five to five days.