The supply of oxygen to the Federal Government Services Hospital has been suspended after the hospital failed to clear its accumulated dues for the last three years.
The hospital, widely referred to as Polyclinic, only has a limited amount of oxygen in stock, which was expected to run out on Tuesday night.
The hospital owes Rs4 million in outstanding dues to a private contractor. The contractor, which has been supplying oxygen to the hospital for the last three years, cut supplies on Monday.
This led to an emergency-like situation at the hospital on Tuesday morning as the condition of infants in incubators in the neonatal intensive-care unit (NICU) started worsening due to limited availability of oxygen.
Hospital officials said there are 25 babies at the NICU, 12 patients in the surgical ICU and eight in the medical ICU who needed oxygen supplies. In addition, an average of 10-to-12 patients in the emergency ward need oxygen on a daily basis.
Many surgeries have also been deferred till oxygen supplies are restored.
In terms of stopgap solutions, “Shifting critical patients to other hospitals is difficult because of the patients’ condition and unavailability of beds in other hospitals,” a hospital official said.
Sources accused some hospital high-ups of embezzling the funds released to the hospital for oxygen.
They said the contractor lent 104 oxygen cylinders to Polyclinic some three years ago and the hospital has been refilling them ever since.
“Despite repeated reminders, the hospital has not paid us a penny to date. Therefore, we suspended supply,” Malik Rehmat, the owner of Business Developer, told The Express Tribune.
Rehmat said he has been requesting all top officials at the hospital, both verbally and in writing, to pay the bills for the last three years.
Polyclinic Executive Director Dr Zahid Hussain and Deputy Executive Director Dr Fiaz Sheikh were not available for comment.
Hospital spokesman Dr Tanveer Malik, however, said that the administration is trying to resolve the issue. He was hopeful that supply will be resumed soon.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2014.