Kerala has a daily production of 219 tonnes of oxygen and is maintaining a buffer stock of 450 tonnes of oxygen without any pressure on the national grid. “But in view of the demand from other states, our buffer stock was sent to those places to help Covid patients as and when required. At present, our own buffer stock is only 86 tonnes. As the active cases are expected to touch six lakhs by May 15, we will need 450 tonnes of oxygen to cater to a large number of people admitted to hospitals. As the state is far away from the steel plants in the country, it will be difficult to bring oxygen to Kerala from other places in case of emergencies,” the chief minister told the media.
“We request that the 219 MT of oxygen produced daily in Kerala be allowed for use within the state and the remaining to be sourced from steel plants. In view of the general situation in the country, the Central Government should procure cryo tankers as soon as possible and supply liquid medical oxygen from them. They should also run oxygen express trains to the southern states including Kerala”, Vijayan said in the letter.
The CM told the media that the Centre has sanctioned three more oxygen plants for Kerala. “Steps have been taken to reduce oxygen waste. There are reports of overuse of oxygen. The technical team in all the districts will check this and take necessary action”, he said.
TREATMENT CHARGES CAPPED
Vijayan said the government has notified new rate structure, capping the charges for Covid-19 treatment for private patients in private hospitals.
“Covid treatment is already free for the beneficiaries of Karunya Arogya Suraksha Padhati (KASP) and for those referred from government hospitals to private hospitals empanelled by the State Health Agency. The tariff announced will be applicable for the Covid patients who reach private hospitals directly,” he said.
The action was necessitated because of the large number of complaints of overcharging and steep billing by such hospitals and the subsequent intervention by the High Court. The rates were finalised after discussions with private hospitals, he said.
There are two slabs of rates fixed for NABH-accredited hospitals and non-accredited hospitals. These rates include Registration Charge, Bed Charges, Nursing and Boarding Charges, Surgeons, Anaesthetists, Medical Practitioner, and Consultant Charges.
The rates charged by the hospitals must be displayed within the hospital and on their own website, as per the Clinical Establishment Act. If any hospital is found to be charging more than the prescribed rate, the District Medical Officer will penalise them with ten times the fine as per the law, he said.
Kozhikode Medical College Hospital has commissioned an oxygen plant to meet the needs of the coastal district which has the highest number of Covid patients in Kerala. The 13 kilo litre plant from the PK Steel Complex has been translocated to the Medical College compound.
The critical part of the project, the work of shifting and re-installing the plant commenced at 7am on Sunday, May 9. It was completed by noon. The operation was carried out with the technical support of the oxygen plant manufacturers.
The plant is located in front of the new Covid Block of Kozhikode Medical College. The Block can accommodate 700 in-patients and has 120 ICU beds.