The Compressed Gas Association (CGA) and Chart Industries say the industrial gas industry is taking steps to ensure US hospitals do not run out of oxygen.

Virginia, US-based CGA, the safety standard setting body of the medical, industrial, and food gases industry, said medical gas companies are taking significant measures to meet growing needs for medical oxygen in the US and Canada.

Oxygen demand has risen during spikes in numbers of patients at hospitals suffering from Covid-19. Pressure on oxygen supplies at hospitals has been caused by large numbers of Covid-19 patients in certain areas, like southern California.

Other factors causing pressure on oxygen availability include hospital supply system capacities, the availability of cylinders and other equipment needed to store and transport medical oxygen, and medical oxygen production and distribution capacities. There have been reports of piping, which delivers the oxygen to patients at hospitals, freezing and blocking the delivery system at some hospitals.

But the CGA says steps are being taken to ensure hospitals do not run short of oxygen.

“Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, CGA member companies have taken significant measures such as sourcing additional medical gas cylinders, converting cylinders and containers to medical oxygen use, where possible increasing production and distribution capacity, and when necessary prioritising allocation of oxygen to medical use to meet growing needs in the US and Canada,” CGA said in a statement.

“These companies continue to monitor and respond to the rapidly changing situation. CGA member companies are using their considerable resources to meet the medical oxygen needs of the communities where they operate. It is critical for healthcare facilities to work with their suppliers to help them respond to their growing needs and configure appropriate safe and sustainable use, on site storage, and delivery capacity.”

Chart Industries, a US-based cryogenic equipment manufacturer, has ramped up production of its critical care products since the outbreak of the pandemic, including oxygen storage tanks (Portable Dura-Cyl®, Mega-Cyl® Liquid Cylinders and Perma-Cyl® MicroBulk Storage Systems), trailers and mobile equipment for use at hospitals, has been holding daily online meetings since the outbreak of the pandemic in March last year.

Gary Degenhardt, North American Sales Manager at Chart, has recently been in discussion with industry experts on oxygen supply for US hospitals.

“The situation is twofold,” Degenhardt told gasworld.

Source: Chart

Install of two back-up Perma-Cyl 5500 MicroBulk Storage Liquid Oxygen Systems for ventilator support at Stony Brook University Hospital in New York last year

“What I presently represent is the equipment side of the story. Since mid-February 2020, Chart has conducted daily conference calls to address Covid-19 equipment needs. By March, Chart had established inventory stocking levels specific to addressing requirements. All forms of equipment, from bulk tanks and medical skid systems, to transports and temporary mobile equipment were given priority production. We have also established stocking levels for this equipment to assure an immediate response can be given to any need.”

Degenhardt continued, “Chart also established a leasing department to allow for support of short-term customer requests. An example of this commitment was our leasing division had 32 of 34 mobile trailers out in service. Many if not all serving Covid related needs. This month alone, we will be adding an additional 35 trailers. These trailers can provide backup support for hospitals that have oxygen requirements that exceed the service capabilities of the existing systems.

“Chart Industries has been working with the major gas producers, independent distributors and end users. Our goal is to not turn anyone away because we could not provide a solution, or meet a delivery. We are meeting that goal and would like the industry and medical community to understand we are there to lend support to address the pandemic. This is commitment and directive of [Chart CEO] Jill Evanko and supported by every individual in the organisation.”

Degenhardt insists there is no problem with a shortage of oxygen being produced.

“The second issue is the oxygen supply situation,” Degenhardt. 

“I can’t speak for that segment of the industry, but air separation unit (ASU) production of oxygen would appear to be sufficient to support hospital needs. Obviously, hospitals could not have seen the essentials that are required to support the pandemic. I have heard of hospital infrastructures that are not designed to meet this need. Many will require review for future consideration. Here again, Chart has temporary equipment to help support immediate needs. We also have field support staff that can help with installations.”

Degenhardt added, “Chart has taken a serious approach to supporting not just the US, but every continent, in an effort to address this medical crisis.”