The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC)-run Rajiv Gandhi Hospital is still bereft of the liquid medical oxygen plant which was sanctioned during the Covid-19 pandemic. The installation work of the liquid medical oxygen plant remains incomplete. However, the civic body claims it will be operational in the next 15 days. Dr Sanjeev Wavre, assistant health officer of PMC told Mirror: “The remaining work of installation of the plant will be completed in the coming fortnight. Due to some technical issues, the work was on hold. Also, there is no emergency or a Covid-like situation, now; therefore, there’s no urgency. Currently, we are able to cater to the patients through oxygen cylinders.”
Dr. Manoj Bangade, health officer at Rajiv Gandhi Hospital, said, “We rely on the oxygen cylinders provided by Naidu Hospital. We received a letter from the PMC regarding the installation of the liquid medical oxygen plant on our hospital premises. They asked us for our opinion regarding the same. We gave a written opinion to the authorities for its installation.”
Speaking on the issue, health activist Aijaz Rehman Khan told Mirror: “If a hospital has separate liquid medical oxygen, then why does it have to depend upon other hospitals? This project got approval during the pandemic, and it is quite shocking that the installation work is yet to be completed.” After Kamla Nehru Hospital, Rajiv Gandhi Hospital is the other prominent maternity facility in Pune which provides around 120 beds. The hospital has a 12-bed neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and a set-up for a paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) is under the pipeline. For the proposed PICU, 30 multipara monitors have already been provided to the hospital. Once the liquid medical plant installation is completed, the PICU will be fully operational.
Jalaluddin Ludke, a patient’s relative, complained: “Twelve days ago, my wife delivered a baby and it was kept in the NICU due to a breathing issue. However, after three days, the Rajiv Gandhi Hospital administration asked us to shift the baby to Kamla Nehru Hospital. Since there were no beds available the KNH told us to go to a private hospital. We went to one but the prices were too high. So, we sought help from the corporator and PMC immediately sent an oxygen cylinder. We got help, but the process was very stressful. Rajiv Gandhi Hospital requires its own plant rather than depending on cylinders.” As per sources, the work of installation of the plant is still underway. And the plant will be operational only when the central government approves it and gives the license. The demolition of a toilet and the strengthening of the approach road is pending.
The capacity of the liquid medical oxygen plant is around 10 kilolitres (KL), which means 1,200 oxygen cylinders can be refilled from the plant which can serve the hospital for 15 days. The advantage of having a separate liquid oxygen plant is that it reduces the hassle of delivering jumbo oxygen cylinders to hospitals.
During COVID-19, when the city was facing a challenge to provide oxygen cylinders, the civic standing committee sanctioned the proposal of `42 lakh to set up the oxygen plant. While addressing the joint session of the state legislature last year, the then-governor had planned for 114 liquid medical oxygen manufacturing units in six divisions at a proposed investment of Rs 1,870 crore.