BIJBEHARA: The authorities’ claims about an improvement in the healthcare in rural hospitals are definitely not based on the state of affairs at the Sub-District Hospital (SDH) Bijbehara, the hometown of the present and the former chief ministers of the state.
Established decades ago, the hospital lacks in basic facilities as well as specialised doctors, while the patients are forced to go elsewhere for treatment.
Despite catering to population of the entire tehsil and many areas of districts such as Shopian and Kulgam, the hospital does not have CBZ and biochemistry analysers as a result of which most of the tests in the hospital are being done manually.
Even Endoscopy machine is not available in the hospital, with the doctors having no choice but to refer the patients to private Endoscopy clinics.
The portable low resolution USG and X-ray machines have not been replaced by digital high resolution machines in more than a decade.
“Low resolution USG machine installed in the hospital more than a decade ago has developed faults many times so far. The machine does not even show accurate results and leave the patients in trouble,” a paramedic posted in the hospital said.
The non-availability of the blood bank, MRI, and CT Scan facilities, hospital insiders said, has been the principal reason for referring most cases from the SDH to other hospitals.
“The hospital, due to its location on the highway, receives a high number of accident cases daily, but all of them are referred either to the District Hospital Anantnag or to Srinagar hospitals,” said a doctor, requesting anonymity.
The licence of the hospital blood bank has expired a few years ago, but the authorities are yet to renew it. The sanitation in the hospital also remains out of gear, with stinking washrooms causing inconvenience to both patients and the staff.
The hospital also faces a shortage of medical and paramedical staff. It is without an ophthalmologist, ENT specialist, orthopedic, anesthetist, and radiologist.
In absence of a radiologist, the USGs are done either by paramedics or a medico with an additional diploma.
There is only one consultant each in general surgery and gynecology sections.
“Due to the shortage of surgeon specialists surgeries are done only on some particular days,” the insiders said, adding that all four positions of theater assistants in the hospital are lying vacant.
“The hospital registers around 12,000 to 13,000 patients every month. Despite being such an overcrowded hospital, the authorities have bitterly failed in improving the healthcare here,” a doctor said.
A few months ago, the authorities had assured the residents that the infrastructure and staff strength of the hospital would be upgraded.
The assurance had come after a representative group of people Bijbehara citizens Council (BCC), working for the welfare of the town, started an agitation against the poor healthcare facilities.
However, nothing seems to have improved.
“Following our agitation, the authorities removed the medical superintendent and brought in a new one, but the infrastructure continues to be as poor as it was. The new medical superintendent is trying her best to provide better healthcare to the patients, but she too has failed to improve the infrastructure of the hospital,” a member of BCC said.
The medical superintendent, Dr Nahida Malik, said she was trying her best to come up to the expectations of the patients.
“The hospital is one of the overcrowded hospitals in the district, and despite many shortfalls, we are trying to give our best,” she told Kashmir Reader.