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Many fleeing ITBP-run Covid centre amid lack of O2, meds

Underutilised, the facility has 309 patients now; 56 have died in one week

Many fleeing ITBP-run Covid centre amid lack of O2, meds
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New Delhi: Reopened one week ago, the Sardar Patel Covid Care Centre, which was last year scaled up to become the country's largest Covid facility, is now scrambling for oxygen, medicines and other critical equipment needed to provide treatment to those admitted there.

In fact, according to official data and sources aware of the centre's functioning, 56 patients have lost their lives at the Centre since its reopened amid the acute oxygen shortage in the city and a large number of people are choosing to flee the centre every day for lack of certainty on the quality of treatment.

The official data showed that about 781 patients had been admitted to the facility since its reopening last week, of which 532 were men and 248 were women. Among these, the ITBP has said a total of 308 patients had left the centre, many of them against medical advice, many others on their own requests and several others discharged after recovering.

"There were cases where we tried to stop the patients as the doctor was not advising them to leave but they did not stop," an official said. The data till May 1 revealed that there were 24 cases of leave against medical advice.

"Currently 360 beds are occupied," the data showed. Most of the deceased were elderly, an official said.

Meanwhile, the oxygen crisis in the city has caught up with the paramilitary force-run centre quite spectacularly, to an extent that now, ITBP personnel are having to mobilise their own resources and machinery to scramble for the medical oxygen needed to keep the admitted patients alive.

"Force is sending vehicles to different states like UP, Rajasthan, Haridwar. ITBP are using our sources, manpower to get it done and ensure uninterrupted oxygen supply to patients," sources aware of the centre's functioning said. "Even for medicines, the situation is the same," one of the sources said. In some cases, the ITBP has even made out-of-pocket payments for life-saving equipment.

And as a result of the shortages, the facility has been underutilised for the one week that it has been up and running with just 350 of the 500 total oxygenated beds operationalised.

Family members of some patients have also spoken out, saying there is also a lack of basic medicines, food and medical care at the centre.

Authorities running the centre agree that there are "shortcomings" but they said that all efforts are being taken to better the facilities.

Last week, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), who is managing the centre in South Delhi's Radha Soami Satsang Beas campus, requested the Delhi government to increase the oxygen supply so that admissions can be increased to full capacity. "There is a huge influx of patients demanding admission but our capacity is limited by the supply of oxygen. Efforts are on to gradually increase the capacity of the centre," an ITBP official said.

Meanwhile, when a Delhi Government official was asked about the supply of oxygen at SPCCC, no reply came from their side.

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