On Friday night, a 59-year-old woman from Vile Parle (East) suffered breathlessness and was rushed to a COVID-19 Care Centre at Poonam Nagar in Andheri. Doctors checked her oxygen saturation level and put her on oxygen support using a portable oxygen concentrator. Her oxygen saturation level improved from 75% to 85% by the time she secured a bed at HBT Trauma Care Hospital in Jogeshwari.
Oxygen therapy has emerged as one of the key interventions in the citys fight against COVID-19. Over the past month, about 50 patients in K East ward have been revived with the help of these suitcase-size devices. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has started a pilot project to train volunteers on how to save lives using oxygen concentrators. The electrically powered device takes in ambient air, filters out nitrogen and produces over 90% of concentrated oxygen.
Additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani said, Depleting levels of oxygen is one of the common signs in severe and critical COVID-19 patients. Timely oxygen support proves beneficial in saving their lives. While the devices are in use in three COVID-19 Care Centres in K East ward, we are planning to train locals on how to use them and act as first responders.
Since Friday, the BMC has started giving one device to each of the 15 corporators in the ward, comprising areas such as Vile Parle (East), Andheri (East) and Jogeshwari (East). So far, 10 corporators have received the device. Each corporator will have two to three volunteers under them who will be trained to operate the device, said assistant commissioner Prashant Sapkale, who referred to the volunteers as the oxygen army of K East ward.
Normal arterial blood oxygen levels are 100% and doctors begin oxygen therapy for patients if it dips to 90%. Immediate access to oxygen helps patients overcome breathlessness. Dr. Urmila Patil, a medical officer, said, A tube attached to the device has a nasal cannula for the patient. It has an easy to use interface where the volunteer has to simply adjust the levels meant for minors and adult patients.
Dr. Patil said low doses, ranging from one to two litres per minute in children and five litres per minute in adults, are given to patients. Dr. Patil said the corporators and volunteers have been sent videos that explain how to operate the device. Our doctors will also help them out, she said.
Volunteers sign up
Among those who have signed up as volunteers is Shashikant Kap, a 46-year-old resident of Marol. He said, Over the past weeks, I have rushed many breathless patients from my area to the hospital. If such patients can be stabilised first, it will be a great relief.
Mr. Kap said two more residents of Marol pipeline area will be taking part in the training programme.