Bengaluru, May 5: Doctors from remote rural areas like Aland taluk in Karnataka's Kalaburagi where four Covid patients reportedly died due to shortage of oxygen have had their own harrowing experiences of dealing with the spreading pandemic.
Aland in Kalaburagi, which borders Covid-battered Maharashtra, has off late seen the contagion sweep the taluk indicating that Covid has penetrated even into interior parts of the state.
Doctors there reveal that lack of staff and required expertise are major reasons for increased death toll in rural parts of the state.
They said that most of the patients in rural areas come at last minute in most of the cases when their oxygen saturation level drops to below 80 per cent. "At this juncture, we are forced to administer them oxygen. Therefore, hospitals in interior parts do face 'constraint' in supplying oxygen," Aland taluk health officer Ratnakar Toran told reporters.
Aland is a dry area, with low rainfall and most of the population lives in poverty. It also witnesses large scale migration to cities due to lack of water, poor education facilities and employment opportunities besides power shortages. Aland is also one of taluks that records a high level of farmer suicides.
Aland Hospital surgeon, Abhay Kumar said that four patients who died on Monday were admitted only at 5 p.m. and all four had below 80 per cent oxygen saturation, while one of them had below 70 per cent, who was very critical. "All these four died past midnight. There was no oxygen shortage. But people tend to attribute all deaths to this factor," he said.
The doctors also feel that many people feel ashamed to disclose that their family member have tested Covid positive and continue to mingle with relatives and friends, thus becoming "super spreaders".
"Finally when they reach hospitals, their oxygen saturation level would have fallen drastically over which ill-prepared doctors like us have absolutely no knowledge about handling critical care patients... this either lead to overcrowding of neighbouring district hospital or by the time treatment is given to such patients, it would have been too late," Kumar said, terming himself ill-prepared to handle this contagion at critical stage. "I am a surgeon... all throughout my life I practiced and studied about surgery and related to this subject. Critical care has never been my forte," he said.
He also added that the majority of hospital staff is tested Covid positive, while he being surgeon, and Ratnakar being an ayurvedic doctor, it is very difficult to cope up with the pressure. "Our X-ray machine operator is Covid positive, and still we are managing to run it with the help of Class D employees. There is no one tp monitor in-patients. When we leave it to their relatives, they mishandle the oxygen outflow to patients," the doctor rued.
Aland town shot to limelight for all the wrong reasons on Tuesday when a report of families of four Covid patients alleging about their relatives dying due to lack of Oxygen supply in hospital, while district authorities including newly appointed district in-charge minister, Murugesh Nirani denied there was any oxygen shortage.