Today’s Heroes: Doctors in Skardu set up an ICU ‘by themselves’ for treatment of COVID-19 patients

The five-bed ICU was set up at a private hospital named ‘Abdullah Hospital’, which was taken over by the government to treat patients till the pandemic is over.

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Doctors in Skardu, Gilgit Baltistan (GB) have taken it upon themselves to set up an intensive care unit (ICU) as the region lacks facilities to battle the deadly COVID-19 outbreak.

“We knew we lacked the equipment to treat patients of coronavirus”, Consultant surgeon at district headquarter Skardu Dr. Kamran Ahmed said.

Dr. Ahmed is a part of the doctors’ team that launched a donation campaign under the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) and Doctors Forum in Baltistan.

A state-of-the-art facility was a necessity in the area since it lacked ventilators and other equipment to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.

As the campaign to set up the ICU kicked off, donations started to pour in. Within little time, the doctors collected Rs. 13.8 million. Out of the collected donations, a significant amount was spent on purchasing the needed equipment.

The five-bed ICU was set up at a private hospital named ‘Abdullah Hospital’, which was taken over by the government to treat patients till the pandemic is over.

The doctors purchased four ventilators, cardiac monitors, suction machine, defibrillator machine, ECG machine, oxygen concentrator, ABGs analyzer and breathing circuits with HME filters.

“It is the third day since ICU became operational with four ventilators in our region”, said Dr. Kamal of Baltistan. He added that no ventilators existed in the region until the doctors purchased these four.

He lauded the efforts of Dr. Musa Irfani and others for leading the project. However, the team still needs an oxygen supply plant to provide support for this facility.

According to Dr. Saad Shafique, another doctor in Skardu, currently, oxygen is filled in cylinders and brought in from Rawalpindi and Islamabad, which is a difficult task.

The oxygen generation plant may cost around Rs. 30 to Rs. 35 million. This can only be done with help and support from philanthropists. The cases of COVID-19 are rising drastically in Gilgit-Baltistan as compared to other parts of the country, raising concerns.

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