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HYPERBARIC OXYGEN THERAPY CENTRE AT SIACHEN FIELD HOSPITAL: A TRIBUTE TO INDIAN ARMY BY ALVL FOUNDATION

Padma Shri (Hony.) Brig Dr Arvind Lal, Executive Chairman, Dr Lal PathLabs & Managing Trustee, ALVL Foundation is an Indian billionaire, pathologist, medical administrator, and philanthropist has modernized Indian medical diagnostics and initiated the first Public Private Partnership in the field of laboratory testing in India. Under his leadership, the Dr. Lal PathLabs modernized its diagnostic services by incorporating Information and communications technology systems and branched out to many parts of the country. With over 5000+ diagnostic and related healthcare tests and services offered, Dr. Lal PathLabs can perform substantially all the diagnostic healthcare tests and services currently prescribed by physicians in India. In his recent philanthropic initiative, Dr Lal launched a Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Centre & Digital Radiography Centre at the 403 Field Hospital, popularly known as Siachen Hospital, to better equip the hospital in treating limb- and life-threatening conditions due to Hypoxia and Hypothermia. Here is an exclusive interview of Dr. Lal with T.I.W on this initiative.

#1. What’s your vision behind launching Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Centre & Digital Radiography Centre in Siachen Hospital?

Our soldiers deployed at Siachen are at high risk of high-altitude illnesses, like Acute Mountain Sickness, High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE), High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE), Chilblains and Frostbite. In 2019 only, 62 soldiers suffered from Frostbite. Siachen Hospital is the first point of care for such injuries and illnesses. Therefore, we decided to fulfil this long-standing need of the hospital by establishing the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Centre & Digital Radiography Centre. It is our tribute to the Indian Army serving at the highest battlefield of the world.

#2. What did trigger you to choose Siachen Hospital?

The #SiachenHospital is located on the #SiachenGlacier, at an altitude of about 18,000 – 20,000 ft. This hospital supports our soldiers deployed at the world’s highest battlefield. Since 1984, our soldiers are deployed in the glacier defying the challenges of sub-zero temperatures that can drop to minus 70 degrees Celsius and oxygen level as low as 10% of that at sea level. Limb- and life-threatening conditions due to Hypoxia, i.e., low oxygen content in the air, and Hypothermia, i.e., extremely cold temperatures, are commonly encountered in the Glacier. As the only hospital of the region in such a remote and extreme location, the Hospital serves not only the troops deployed at Siachen, but also the local civilians, tourists, and ex-servicemen. It was quite natural for us to pay our tribute to the nation through such philanthropic initiative.

#3. Could you please explain Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for our readers?

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is the medical use of oxygen at an ambient pressure higher than the atmospheric pressure, to speed up healing of tissues that are starved for oxygen. #HBOT is delivered in a highly specialised Chamber – Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Chamber. Timely use of HBOT in high altitude and cold related injuries and conditions can be limb- and life-saving. The sophisticated HBOT equipment will help treat soldiers and civilians for conditions commonly arising from extreme cold and low oxygen.

#4. When does a person need hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

A doctor may suggest for hyperbaric oxygen therapy when the person suffers from any of the ailments like severe anaemia, brain abscess, bubbles of air in your blood vessels (arterial gas embolism), burns, carbon monoxide poisoning, crushing injury, deafness, sudden decompression sickness, gangrene, infection of skin or bone that causes tissue death, nonhealing wounds, such as a diabetic foot ulcer, radiation injury, skin graft or skin flap at risk of tissue death, traumatic brain injury, and vision loss.

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