Srinagar: Mohammad Habibullah Khan (name changed), 70, suffering from an acute chest respiratory disease, is resting on a bed in one of the wards at Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital beneath several layers of bedding warmed by a Kangri.
His wife Hameeda Begum has folded her arms as she shivers from the cold inside the ward.
“The heating system is not working for most part of the day,” she told Kashmir Reader.
The couple hails from Kupwara, 100km from Srinagar, so they can’t have Kangri or hot water bottle. An attendant has offered his own to Khan.
“It becomes unbearable in the night. They (hospital authorities) turn off the heating system at night. I sleep on the same bed as his to escape freezing cold outside the ward,” she added.
SMHS Medical Superintendent Dr Nazir Choudhary said the central heating system is turned off at 12am and put on again at 4am. But attendants complain the schedule is not followed.
“We have to bring extra bedding, Kangris and hot water bottles to fight the cold,” said Khalid Nawaz Khan of Habba Kadal area.
A few doctors pleading anonymity corroborated the attendants saying the schedule is not being followed, leaving vulnerable patients at risk. Gases emitted by burning charcoal in Kangris are not good for patients suffering from chest diseases, they said.
Dr Nisar Ul Hassan, an assistant professor of medicine at the hospital said cold aggravates the risk of heart attacks and strokes during winter.
“Cold constricts blood vessels and makes blood thicker. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease patients are more prone to fatality due to cold. The hospital has to provide uninterrupted heating to patients in winter,” he said.
Chaudhary said the hospital would be operating the heating system for two more hours from Thursday.
“But machines need rest. Uninterrupted heating arrangement is not possible,” he said.