Medical gases infrastructure upgraded at Gozo General Hospital

The vacuum plant at Gozo General Hospital – before (top) and after (bottom) / Steward Malta

Steward Health Care Malta has recently upgraded its medical gases infrastructure at the Gozo General Hospital, the American giant announced in a statement on Friday.

The company managing a former state hospital on the sister island explained that the upgrade includes the replacement of the main vacuum plant as well as a new distribution system and plant to provide the hospital with an autonomous and continued supply of oxygen for a period of four to six weeks through a 20,000-litre oxygen reservoir.

Steward Health Care said that this was done in anticipation of an increased demand due to coronavirus and the seasonal influenza and through this investment the hospital would be able to provide a more sustainable supply of oxygen to GGH patients.

Oxygen is the most widely used medical gas and is considered to be a medicinal, therefore the provision of a safe and reliable supply is critical.

According to Steward Health Care with the old set-up, the hospital was reliant on the constant replenishment from Malta of traditional oxygen through a large number of cylinders – with the former system allowing for an autonomy of only three to four days of medical oxygen and with the need to restock oxygen cylinders on a regular basis. The new investment has significantly strengthened the logistical supply chain for the provision of oxygen in the hospital.

The new set-up involves a Vacuum Insulated Evaporator (VIE) system, which can store liquid oxygen in a cryogenic state. Apart from the VIE installation, the hospital infrastructure has been upgraded with an increase in the number of oxygen points around the hospital to be able to handle the anticipated increase in oxygen demand during the winter season.

“Patients treated with respiratory complications, sometimes require the use of suction apparatus supplied by a central vacuum plant. The old vacuum plant had been in use at the Gozo Hospital since 1989, and again in anticipation of increased demand, Steward has invested in a new HTM-compliant vacuum plant. The final piece for the complete upgrade of the medical gases infrastructure will be the installation of a new HTM compliant Medical Air compressors System in the coming days,” the statement reads.

The new oxygen reservoir set up at Gozo General Hospital

Covid-19 preparations at GGH

Apart from upgrading its medical gases infrastructure, the company said that it has expanded its hospital capacity by an additional 120 beds to treat coronavirus patients. An additional 25 Covid-19 ICU beds complete with ventilator setup could also be made available.

There are 25 ventilators at the Gozo General Hospital with Steward Malta explaining that it was able to mobilize rapidly in response to the pandemic crisis sourcing its high-end ventilators directly from reputable manufacturers such as General Electric and Philips by leveraging on the global supply chain network that Steward can access through its US and International health systems.

“As part of our preparedness for COVID-19, Steward Health Care Malta has invested significantly in reliable equipment and enhanced infrastructure in its hospitals with the intention to provide the best possible care to patients, whilst keeping our staff safe. Together with Steward’s international leadership team and through the supply chain support it provides, we are leaving no stone unturned to be able to deal successfully with the pandemic and the patients’ needs,” said Dr Nadine Delicata, Executive Director and President of Steward Health Care Malta.

The ventilators are part of a €6 million investment programme that Steward Malta embarked on in 2020 to face the pandemic successfully. The company said it also purchased critical equipment used to treat coronavirus patients including specialised dialysis machines (CRRT), monitors and oxygen concentrators, additional supplies such as Personal Protective Equipment, and investment in infrastructure and plant.

Steward Malta said that it invested in the modifications of its facilities at Karin Grech Hospital to accommodate changes in patient demand and workflow as a result of pandemic. This includes a new additional 28-bed ward complete with negative pressure and the required air changes.

100,000 disposable face masks were donated by Steward Health Care’s US headquarters to the Maltese.