Bheri Hospital's oxygen supply system can cater to up to 100 patients tops. Presently, however, the system is running at a stretch.

As per data, there are more than 250 patients receiving oxygen at the hospital at present. Of them, a vast majority, 242, are COVID patients and 82 are in critical condition. The hospital administration said it was hard to treat so many patients with oxygen supplement with the existing oxygen supply system.

"We have a central supply system installed, which ensures equal oxygen flow to all oxygen-equipped beds. But as the flow of oxygen, which is at a stretch to accommodate more than double the capacity here, has dropped, it's hard to save critical patients," said a health worker, adding that most of the infected patients who died were in critical condition.

Given the low flow of oxygen, even those who could be saved are dying, and the problem is so severe that the oxygen system is on the verge of collapse, he further said.

Compared to Nepalgunj Medical College Teaching Hospital, Bheri Hospital has a high rate of deaths every day. Health workers have gathered that the higher death rate at Bheri Hospital has to do with the low oxygen flow.

The hospital's medical superintendent Dr Prakash Thapa said the hospital, faced with high pressure of patients requiring oxygen, is exploring ways to economise on oxygen use. Oxygen can't be given to all critical patients with the present infrastructure we have, he said.

Anaesthesiologist Dr Parash Pande also spoke about the hard time the hospital was facing. "As we can't provide oxygen to all patients through the existing supply system, patients are being given oxygen from the cylinder itself. But as the oxygen flow has reduced due to the high number of patients, it's difficult to save critical patients who require more oxygen," Pande said.

Some 400 to 450 cylinders of oxygen is being used at the hospital every day. Though the hospital has purchased and brought a liquid oxygen tank, it hasn't been able to install it so far.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 16, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.