Srinagar: Over 300 patients, their attendants and scores of staff members of Lal Ded hospital, were saved by youth, even as the state administration and army refused help, when the lone maternity hospital of the Valley was submerged due to the floods last month.
This has been disclosed in a report prepared by a Supreme Court appointed panel to assess the flood situation in the Valley. The report presents a grim situation of the maternity hospital, where patients were operated under candle light amidst shortage of food and medicines.
“We shifted the labour room to the new building on 4th storey. Two babies were in the labour room who were directed to be handed over to their mothers so that they remain warm. The blood bank was also inundated. One patient was very critical. As there was no light, we operated her under candle light. Both mother and baby survived,” Dr Shahnaz Teing, HOD Gynecology and Obstetrics, Lal Ded Hospital, is quoted as saying in the report submitted separately before apex court by one of the panel members and Kashmir High Court Bar Association president, advocate Mian Abdul Qayoom.
The other members of the panel included Suresh Kumar Sharma (Registrar General J&K High Court), M K Bhaderwaj (president Bar Association Jammu), Sanjay Aggarwal (Director Disaster Management, Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi) and Vinod Kaul (Secretary J&K Revenue Relief and Rehabilitation).
Since no effort was made by made by the administration to evacuate the patients, Dr Shahnaz said, the people were getting agitated. She said that she also sought help from the two boats that were passing by.
“We requested them for help. We also saw helicopters. We requested them for help, but no one came to our rescue. 300 patients were there. Two-three attendants were with every patient. Children were also with their mothers,” Shahnaz said.
“Around this time, the two local boys again appeared in boats. We requested them help us by getting some candles and biscuits. They got candles and some biscuits and we conducted several surgeries under candle light,” she added.
Hitting out at the government, Dr Shahnaz in the report says that the hospital was irresponsibly declared safe even though whole of it was inundated. The announcement, she said, turned the people furious, who raised hue and cry and attacked a doctor as well.
“As we had nothing to eat, we directed the patients to take dextrose directly so that the patients could remain alive. The operation theatre had become defunct. The lifesaving drugs had gone,” says Dr Shahnaz in the report.
“The Medical Superintendent said in the evening that he will try to come out of the hospital and inform the authorities. We had by then operated 95 patients. Due to shortage of food and medicine, we were facing heat of the patients and their attendants. The situation in the hospital was becoming grave every moment,” she adds.
She said that when the MS did not return, most of the doctors, including a Registrar, who was pregnant by eight months, managed to come out from the hospital by passing through a hole in the upper storey of the building.
“There was huge water on both the sides of the wall. We took the risk to walk on the wall without caring as to whether we fall in the floodwater or not. No one came to our rescue,” she said.
After a risky escape, the doctors reached a relief camp that was operated by leader of a mainstream political party. The politician, she said, arranged some volunteers, all locals, to rescue the patients from the hospital.
“It is because of the efforts of those youngsters that we could save ourselves, 300 patients and their attendants. In fact these youngsters are our hope,” she adds.