$31M oxygen plant to reduce cost of treating COVID patients, but shipping delayed

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An oxygen plant, valued at about US$150,000 (or GY $31 million), is being donated to help treat COVID-19 patients at the National Infectious Diseases hospital at Liliendaal, Georgetown, but the arrival of the plant has been beset by transportation issues.

During a virtual press conference on Monday, Coordinator of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh Ravi Dev explained that the plant has already been sourced from India. The challenge, however, is securing a flight to bring the equipment to Guyana. The cost of this flight, he said, will add to the cost of the actual plant.

This plant is expected to produce the much-needed oxygen on-site at the hospital. Oxygen is used in the treatment of patients experiencing the more severe or life-threatening forms of COVID-19 since these patients may have difficulties breathing.

“Since the oxygen is produced on-site and supplied into the infrastructure already in the hospital, there is no need for these (oxygen) tanks,” Dev explained.

This specific plant is expected to produce about 800 litres of oxygen per minute by capturing air, absorbing the unwanted nitrogen and filtering out the oxygen for use. The 800 litres of oxygen would be able to supply about 50 patients with about 16 litres of oxygen each, every minute.

At the press conference, Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony related that the Liliendaal hospital has nearly 200 beds to treat COVID-19 patients, including 52 beds in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to treat critically-ill patients.

“Once that (plant) is up and running, it would substantially reduce the cost of oxygen at the COVID-19 hospital,” Dr. Anthony said.

According to the Health Minister, on average, the hospital treats about 120 patients and that in some instances, there are about 30 to 35 patients receiving care in the ICU. And, about 15 litres of oxygen are used to treat them.

When asked by the News Room, the Health Minister could not state exactly how much money is currently spent to procure the cylinders of oxygen to treat patients.

Dr. Anthony, however, said: “I’m sure it costs a lot of money.”

He added, “…. (the plant) would go a significant way in assisting us at the COVID hospital.”

The plant is being donated to Guyana through the efforts of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh and the Sewa International Guyana; both organisations are not-for-profit bodies that have been assisting Guyana’s COVID-19 fight.

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