How To Help Ease the Strain on Oxygen Supply

Surging COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations has resulted in oxygen supply issues which has affected hospitals in the state. As a result of the surge of cases, there has been an increase in demand driven by COVID-19 patients, putting a huge stress on the overall oxygen supply chain – everything from cylinders to trucks to move it.

In hospitals, bulk oxygen systems are being strained by the number of patients using high flow supplemental oxygen, exceeding the designed capacity of these systems.

Additionally, facilities and home health care companies are experiencing challenges managing the supply of supplemental oxygen bottles and tanks. This is leading to a shortage of bottles/cylinders and impacting gas companies’ abilities to fill replacement orders.

To address the challenges being experienced with oxygen supply, there are ways the public and industry can help ease the strain. Here are two ways to help:

If you use bulk oxygen or nitrogen in your industry, we need you to do what you can to conserve. We need as much capacity devoted to our medical community now as we possibly can. It’s not just the molecules themselves but also the trucking capacity, the cylinders, the equipment. Every bit that can help free up capacity for our hospitals helps.

There are thousands of at-home oxygen units with individuals who had this equipment previously who have since recovered but have not returned it yet. We need everyone who no longer needs their at-home oxygen equipment to return it as soon as possible. Get in touch with your home oxygen provider to schedule an equipment return today. This is like the old video rental store days, if you don’t return the equipment it isn’t available for someone else to use. This equipment helps hospitals discharge patients who just need extra oxygen but don’t necessarily need to be in the hospital.

The state is taking additional actions to further mitigate and address the complex issues involving oxygen supply, the state has implemented a multi-pronged approach which includes the following actions:

  • Working with industry to expand capacity and keep hospital oxygen systems running
  • Staging two oxygen Response Teams in the Los Angeles Region
  • Increasing access to home oxygen
  • Leasing 4 mobile oxygen systems
  • Deploying 363 Oxygen Concentrators
  • Ensure facilities are aware of the issues associated with high flow oxygen usage within hospital facilities.
  • Support facilities with enhanced resources to ensure issues are addressed rapidly with scalable solutions.

The State will continue its all of government approach, including working closely with the private sector, to solve the most pressing issues facing our medical system from this unprecedented surge.

Monica Vargas

Monica is an Information Officer for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). She has been involved in the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, Valley Fire, Butte Fire, historic drought, Oroville Dam Emergency Spillway Incident, 2017 winter storms, North Bay Fires, Camp Fire, Ridgecrest Earthquake, 2020 Puerto Rico earthquake EMAC PIO, 2020 fire siege and the COVID-19 pandemic. She previously served Cal OES as an analyst in the executive, international affairs and technology offices.

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