Odisha has taken a major step towards winning the war against Covid-19 with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik dedicating nine Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machines installed at the SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack to the people of the state.
With nine ECMO machines, this newly inaugurated unit of the state’s premier medical institute has become the largest such facility in the whole of Eastern India in the government sector. ECMO machines play a crucial role in the treatment of critically ill Covid-19 patients with severely damaged lungs. Such patients need sustained ventilator support. Patients with post-Covid complications also need ECMO assistance as the machine substitutes the functions of the heart and the lungs when the lungs cannot provide enough oxygen or get rid of enough carbon dioxide from the body and the heart cannot pump enough blood into the system.
As the Chief Minister, who has been consistently striving to upgrade state’s health infrastructure to meet the new challenges thrown by the pandemic rightly pointed out, with the installation of these machines at the SCB Medical College and Hospital critically ill Covid patients will no more need to be airlifted to cities such as Kolkata and Hyderabad for ECMO treatment. With such treatment being highly expensive, ordinary people struggle to bear its cost in private hospitals. Sometimes the condition of the patients deteriorates in the process of being shifted out of the state for this treatment. A few months ago, a senior IPS officer of the state had to be airlifted to Kolkata for ECMO support but he finally succumbed to Covid-related complications.
The Odisha government has been planning the installation these machines for quite some time to help the state’s critically ill Covid patients. However, the shortage of trained medical professionals to handle these units was a problem. Now that the required manpower is available in the state the ECMO unit at SCB Medical College and Hospital is set to become fully functional. This is expected to provide relief to patients not only from Odisha but also from outside.
The ECMO unit at SCB MCH has been inaugurated at the right time when the state is already gearing up to tackle the third wave of Covid-19 pandemic. Odisha has always been much better prepared than other states of the country to deal with such situations. As the Chief Minister himself pointed out while referring to the devastation wreaked by the second wave of the pandemic, Odisha has been able to overcome the crisis with proper planning and management. He also talked about the state’s preparedness to tackle the third wave which, according to experts, might hit children the hardest. Patnaik said that additional health infrastructure and manpower was being arranged for necessary paediatric care in all Covid hospitals of the state.
The Chief Minister also rightfully cautioned the people of the state against flouting the pandemic protocol, as the threat of Covid-19 was far from over, despite relaxation of lockdown restriction. This is an advice that we all must follow sincerely.
Patnaik’s Cuttack visit was significant because of other reasons as well. Accompanied by 5T secretary VK Pandian, he took the opportunity to visit the famous Taladanda canal and also had a look at some of the beautification works in the millennium city, which he described in a tweet as a city known for its cordiality and a unique ambience.