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CMC Implements 5-Point Strategy to Best Support COVID-19 Patients’ Oxygen Needs

As of May 17th, India’s COVID-19 infection rate remains at a devastating rate of 319,497 cases per day. Oxygen, the most critical resource used to treat COVID-19 patients, is in short supply. Prior to the pandemic, CMC used 3000 m3 of oxygen/day, and that need has now more than doubled to nearly 7000 m3/day. The need for additional oxygen sources is vital to adequately supporting patients, and yet, the supply remains uncertain. CMC Vellore has developed ways to reduce and mitigate the risk of running out of oxygen for the thousands of patients whose lives depend on it.

J.V. Peter, CMC’s Director, has shared a 5-pronged strategy that is being implemented across CMC to conserve oxygen.

  1. Avoiding “Oxygen Guzzlers” – CMC is following the government’s guidance in avoiding the use of certain equipment including the High Flow Nasal Cannula (HFNC) and Venturi masks unless absolutely necessary. 
  2. Instituting the Oxygen Stewardship Program – CMC’s nurses oversee this program, in collaboration with respiratory therapists, to ensure that every healthcare worker takes all measures to reduce oxygen leaks and wastage from equipment.
  3. Following a “More for Less” Approach – CMC is emphasizing the use of devices such as non-invasive ventilation, non-rebreather, or partial re-breather masks to help reduce oxygen use in patients who require higher fixed inspired oxygen concentration.
  4. Resetting Safe Oxygen Targets – CMC’s medical practitioners are targeting what’s considered to be an appropriate target of 92-94% oxygen saturation in patients unless there are strong medical reasons for setting higher targets.
  5. Reducing the Pressure on Liquid Oxygen – CMC is prioritizing the use of oxygen generation plants and portable oxygen concentrators. Through the generosity of CMC Vellore’s community, CMC has received 100 portable oxygen concentrators, which have been distributed throughout their COVID wards.

Just this past weekend, CMC began shifting ICU and Level 2 patients from the main hospital to the Kannigapuram campus, which has a large oxygen generator plant to deliver oxygen more efficiently to patients. The Kannigapuram oxygen generator plant, installed in 2020 through the generosity of the Azim Premji Foundation, has a capacity to generate 1,000 to 1,200 cubic meters of oxygen per day, which would benefit 100 to 120 patients in Level 2 wards.

Beyond implementing strategies at CMC to conserve oxygen, CMC Director Dr. J.V. Peter and Dr. Gagandeep “Cherry” Kang are serving on the twelve-member National Task Force to facilitate a streamlined public health response across India. The task force is focused on ensuring an equitable distribution of oxygen across the country and ensuring the availability of essential drugs and medicines to patients from all demographics, especially the lowest-resourced communities. 

Read more about oxygen optimization in India in this article.

Want to help? Learn more about CMC’s oxygen equipment needs and ways you can support here.

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