Prior to ICU deaths, oxygen supply firm cut staff at Ambedkar Hospital
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The private contractor that had installed the centralised oxygen supply system at Sushruta Trauma Centre (STC) had withdrawn its manpower from Bala Saheb Ambedkar Hospital in Rohini where it had installed a similar oxygen supply system and were also responsible for running it.
Sources said the company, PES Installations Private Ltd, withdrew its staff earlier this year reportedly over a delay in renewing its contract.
Four persons admitted to the ICU at STC had died on Tuesday night after the oxygen supply was cut off for 12 minutes. One more died on Wednesday.
In the wake of the incident, the Delhi government had blamed the company for cutting down its staff at STC, after a contract for providing manpower expired last year.
Health Minister Dr A K Walia had said the withdrawal of one staff member from night duty, and three during the day, from the central gas plant at STC, amounted to "negligence". This has been stated in the FIR filed against the company as well.
According to an official in the Health department, of the two company employees arrested, supervisor Madan Lal Sharma is a retired employee of Lok Nayak Hospital where he was posted as a technician at the central oxygen plant.
While Dr Walia on Thursday mentioned the possibility of blacklisting the company after announcing the termination of its services from STC, Newsline has found that Ambedkar Hospital, the largest government health facility in North Delhi, is not the only hospital that had a contract with the company.
The company had installed the oxygen pipeline system at the 500-bed Ambedkar Hospital four years ago and had been operating it. It also held the annual maintenance contract here.
Apart from this, the company had also installed medical gas pipeline systems at Lok Nayak(main building), Guru Teg Bahadur, and DDU (main building) hospitals more than ten years ago. It still holds the annual maintenance contracts for the systems at LN Hospital and GTB Hospital. The company held the maintenance contract in DDU Hospital till 2010.
A senior official in the Health department said: "The problem with STC was that the primary source of oxygen in the supply system were the oxygen cylinders, which store oxygen in gaseous form. At the other hospitals, the primary source of oxygen are tanks storing liquid oxygen. Their capacity is much more than the gas cylinders, and last 3-4 days even in super specialty centres."
The official said the oxygen cylinders in these hospitals were treated as a back-up, to be used only while the liquid oxygen cylinders were being refilled, or in case of an emergency.
The company had also installed the central gas supply systems at AIIMS Trauma Centre and the Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital (IRCH) at AIIMS.
It has a ten-year contract with AIIMS Trauma Centre and a five-year contract with IRCH to provide staff to operate the systems at both facilities.
Sources confirmed that in both these centres, the liquid oxygen cylinder system was being used.
The medical gas pipeline systems of several private hospitals, including the ones at Fortis Escorts Hospital and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, had also been installed by the same company.
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