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Times of India
16 February 2011
By Pratibha Masand
Mumbai, India

42 Ventilators Lying Unused in JJ Since ’08
Imagine a premier hospital having a stock of ventilators but waiting for two years to instal them.
Believe it or not, a total of 42 of the life–saving equipment that assists patients to breathe and sanctioned to the JJ Hospital by the Centre have been lying unused since 2008. Reason: Since the hospital units lack a centralized gas compressor system, the authorities haven’t been able to instal the crucial machines.

The need for ventilators was felt by the hospital when there was a spurt in dengue and leptospirosis cases in the city after the 2006 deluge. Though JJ Hospital did get the ventilators following a Rs 120–crore grant from the central government under the Pradhan Mantri Swastha Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) in 2008, none of them could be made operational.

Sources from the paediatric department reveal that as many as 14 ventilators had been sanctioned to them. "The (paediatric) department needs more ventilators than the ones that have already been installed. But the fact that many vents are lying unused makes us angry," a source said. However, when Dr Ashok Rathod, head of paediatric department was contacted, he refused to comment.

A few of the eventilators had also been provided to the medicine department. "Some ventilators were passed on to us, but they cannot be used. We currently use the ones which have automatic compressors," said a doctor from the department. "But such ventilators break down frequently and the hospital has to spend a lot of money on repairing them," the doctor added.

"A centralized compressed gas system will provide an outlet for each bed, from where the ventilators can be attached. A gas compressor draws outside air, compresses it and then provides pure oxygen to patients. Latest ventilators have in–built compressors but the 42 that were sanctioned by the Centre require a centralized compressor connection all through the critical care units," said a senior doctor from the anesthesia department.

However, the hospital claimed that the number of ventilators currently functional on the premises was enough. "We have a total of 82 working ventilators as of now, which is adequate. However, if there is a mass emergency, or the hospital is overloaded with critical patients, then we would need more ventilators," Dr T P Lahane, dean of JJ Hospital, admitted.

Incidentally, a Rs 71–lakh tender for installing a compressed gas system had been passed by the government last year. "Work on the same will begin soon after which, the extra vents will be made operational," Lahane added.

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