Like something out of a Hollywood blockbuster, the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) has spread across the globe since it was first detected in December in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

As the days passed and the epidemic started to spread throughout Europe, multinational company Nippon Gases began planning the implementation of all necessary protocols, adapting processes and procedures to the new epidemic situation, with all signs indicating that it would hit the Iberian Peninsula with full force.

In the early days of March, the company activated a collection of contingency plans with two vital priorities. The first was to protect the health of all employees and, in so doing, that of all patients receiving both in-home and hospital care. The second was to maintain activity at all pharmaceutical laboratories for production and filling of medical gases, to ensure the timely supply of the amount of medical oxygen requested by large hospitals, both public and private, social healthcare centres (retirement homes) and for chronic homebound patients served by Oximesa, the company’s homecare division.

In Iberia, Nippon Gases Healthcare supplies medical oxygen and other healthcare gases to over 150 hospitals, 750 health centres, approximately 1,000 smaller medical centres, and a similar number of social healthcare centres that receive primarily medical oxygen. This 24/7 uninterrupted supply guarantee is possible because of the company’s leadership on the peninsula with regard to the production and filling of medical oxygen. It is assured thanks to the nine medical oxygen production units, seven filling plants, and over 50 logistics warehouses authorised by the pertinent authorities.

Oximesa has over 470 professionals, 45% of which are caregivers (university graduates in nursing and physical therapy) who are able to serve nearly 300,000 patients at home or on an outpatient basis. This number includes 52,000 patients receiving oxygen therapy of any type: a high-risk group for coronavirus infection.

Exceptional situations call for exceptional measures

All these technical and human resources have had to adapt to the exceptional situation caused by the pandemic. The medical gas manufacturing and filling plants have worked triple shifts to meet the high demand arising from Covid-19. Demand has increased four-fold in the case of compressed medical oxygen, and up to six-fold, in the specific case of Madrid.

Likewise, offloading operations to cryogenic tanks located at hospital centres have doubled since the start of the crisis, which has required custom planning for the distribution service at each of the major hospitals.

For both liquid and compressed oxygen, distribution at the different delivery points is provided by a large fleet of vehicles, with over 120 units in the case of compressed gas distribution and just under 110 for the distribution of cryogenic liquid medical oxygen. All these units have been operational around the clock since the contingency situation was activated.

NIPPON Gases

Source: Nippon Gases

But the measures adopted by Nippon Gases and Oximesa do not end there. They also include the special cleaning and disinfection procedures applied to the medical gas cylinders and to the equipment used for in-homecare (oxygen concentrators, respirators), as well as the extreme measures for personal protection and hygiene for each and every one of its workers, and especially those at Oximesa who are on the frontline of the ‘battle’ – providing service at individual’s homes, retirement homes and other social healthcare centres where delicate respiratory patients are located.

“It is also important to mention the extraordinary efforts made by the electromedical technicians who are currently working under heavy personal protection measures seven days a week to ensure a reviewed, cleaned and disinfected stock of equipment at any time,” the company stressed to gasworld.

Under the current situation, Oximesa is emphasising the role of telemedicine in containing the Covid- 19 pandemic, reducing the exposure of patients and medical staff and enabling them to interact daily while decreasing the possibility of infection and spread of the disease, guaranteeing clinical control of the patients’ illness in an environment of complete safety for the caregiving community.

But the measures implemented by the company also affect personnel located at the company’s different local sales offices, such as administrative staff, and contact centres for patient care. This is achieved by remote working, which reduces the risk of infection and propagation of the disease considerably among company employees.

“Although adapting remote working to hundreds of individuals is no easy task, the Nippon Gases IT Department has proven to be more than ready to face a situation they had never faced before,” the company said.

Coordinating with hospitals and health authorities

Both Nippon Gases and Oximesa are working closely with major hospitals and homes across the peninsula, making it possible not only to increase the capacity for patient care, but also to improve the quality of care given to patients and hospitals.

“Through this coordination we are able to provide individual and custom scheduling for the actions to be taken by the team involved in each project,” it affirmed.

“…cryogenic tanks located at hospital centres have doubled since the start of the crisis…”

Work has been done on nearly 40 expansion actions for medical installations, gasworld understands, including adapting pavilions, configuring hotels for medical care, field hospitals and provisional tents, in addition to a variety of urgent installations and supplies at hundreds of retirement homes. These projects have created over 3,000 oxygen supply points at a number of permanent centres and temporary infrastructures. The interventions are planned by the engineering department and are carried out by the excellent professionals employed by Nippon Gases.

In the area of homecare, the Covid-19 pandemic has required several thousand new installations, primarily for oxygen. In-home oxygen therapy services, for example, have increased three-fold since the start of this unique situation brought about by Covid-19. Due to this increase, the specialised means of distribution for pressurised gas cylinders or stationary liquid oxygen units have been reinforced with internal staff from other lesser-affected areas. “Nippon Gases and Oximesa are firmly committed to offering all available infrastructures and technical and human resources wherever they are needed to tackle the coronavirus pandemic,” the company assured.

In concluding, the company notes that it is these values of Nippon Gases and Oximesa – safety, integrity, satisfaction and dedication – that are key to assisting in the fight against coronavirus.

“Driven by the great dedication shown by each and every one of the company’s employees, measures are being implemented to improve the health of all patients and citizens, in addition to working together in the same direction, to win the battle against this small but giant enemy known as Covid-19.”

“The values of Nippon Gases and Oximesa have always been safety, integrity and satisfaction for the patients and health administrations who have trusted in the company for decades. That is why commitment and responsibility from a company dedicated fully to caring for people are at the forefront today.”