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HomeIndiaVentilators received under PM CARES 'faulty', majority lying unused, Punjab doctors claim

Ventilators received under PM CARES ‘faulty’, majority lying unused, Punjab doctors claim

Punjab doctors say that even with ventilators that do work, there have been instances where they’ve turned off on their own while being used on patients.

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Chandigarh: Government doctors in Punjab are alleging that hundreds of ventilators they’ve received under the PM CARES Fund are lying unused as a majority of them are faulty and there are no avenues to repair them.

Three government medical colleges in the state — at Amritsar, Patiala and Faridkot — had received these ventilators, in July last year.

Doctors have told ThePrint that they have been lying unused since and despite reminders to the Modi government that they need to be repaired, the first set of engineers to have a look at them are expected to arrive only in the coming few days.

Dr Raj Bahadur, the vice-chancellor of the Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences, under which the three medical colleges function, told ThPrint Wednesday that even for the ventilators that do work, staff are hesitant in putting them to use because there have been instances where they’ve turned off on their own while being used on patients. 

ThePrint reached the Union Ministry of Health via email for a response regarding the faulty ventilators but there was no response till the time of publishing this report. 

The fact that brand new ventilators, under the PM CARES fund, sent to Punjab are lying unused was first highlighted by Aam Aadmi Party MLA from Kotkapura, Kultar Singh Sandhwan, who Tuesday tweeted a picture of these ventilators lying in a store room at the Faridkot Medical College. 

He urged the Punjab chief minister to ensure that these ventilators become functional so that Covid patients get adequate L-3 medical facilities.   

L-3 hospitals are those that have ventilators while L-1 institutions are mainly community health centres and L-2 hospitals are those that have oxygen facilities attached to beds.

Ventilators not being used

Dr Raj Bahadur admitted that the ventilators at Faridkot are lying unused, adding that the situation was the same at the other two medical colleges in Patiala and Amritsar.

“We received 113 ventilators at the Faridkot Medical College and Hospital, of which only 23 worked and the rest are non-functional,” he said. “The Amritsar Medical College got 109 ventilators, of which only 12 are functional. Similarly, the Patiala Medical College received 98 ventilators, of which only 48 are functional.

“Even the ventilators that have been repaired and put to use are not wholly dependable,” Dr Raj Bahadur added.

He said that the issue was flagged with the Punjab government several times and that senior officers of the state health department had already conveyed this fact to the central government.

“The Government of India should have had an annual maintenance contract with the company that manufactured these ventilators so that we could approach them,” the doctor said. “We have, however, managed to contact some engineers in the company who will be coming today to see how the ventilators can be made functional,”added doctor Raj Bahadur. 

Reports of the ventilators not working have also come from Mohali where the Punjab government had shared 20 of them with two private hospitals to enhance their L-3 bed capacity. 

One of these hospitals reported that the ventilators were constantly giving off “negative airway pressure” alarms apart from having some software-related issues. The private hospital said it had told the district administration to get these ventilators repaired.

In July last year, PGIMER in Chandigarh also reported that the 10 ventilators it had received under the PM CARES Fund were not functioning properly and they were trying to resolve the issue. However, another ten ventilators received by the government Medical College and Hospital in sector 32 were reported to be working fine. 

The Rajasthan government too faced a similar problem with over 1,000 ventilators that it received under the PM CARES fund.

(Edited by Arun Prashanth)

Also read: Centre vs Centre — oxygen quota stokes public spat between PGIMER and Chandigarh admin


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