The sorry state of north Kashmir’s leading hospital

The sorry state of north Kashmir’s leading hospital
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SDH Sopore lacks basic facilities, while poor hygiene is bigger turnoff

Sopore: Poor hygiene, leaking washrooms, lack of basic facilities, are the hallmarks of Sub-District Hospital (SDH) Sopore, which is seen as a leading hospital in north Kashmir.
The 200-bed facility sees a huge rush of patients from Sopore and adjoining areas like Bandipora, Rafiabad, Handwara, and Kupwara and even from far off Tangmarg. However, the dearth of basic facilities leaves the patients and attendants complaining.
On his last visit to Sopore, former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had promised the upgradation of SDH Sopore to a Model Hospital equipped with all facilities, but the hospital even lacks an elevator for the patients, who have to be carried through a narrow staircase to first floor. Facilities are absent or outdated.
Conceived in 1980’s, the hospital took more than 25 years to built and open, yet a major part is still under construction.
“A large portion of the hospital is still non-functional, it would have assisted the hospital but the construction is going on at snail’s pace,” Mohammad Shafi, an attendant told Kashmir Reader. “For simple things like carrying out a routine test, I have been running helter-skelter since morning.”
The biggest turn offs at the hospital is its poor hygiene.
“Look at the condition of bathrooms here, water is leaking from taps. Even patients can’t use the washroom, forget about attendants,” Abdul Rashid, another attendant of a patient at post-surgical ward said.
Block Medical Officer, Sopore Dr Sami, however, put the onus of hygiene on people.
“The bathrooms are old and the leakage is justified. We have already taken up the matter with R&B department to build new bathrooms but the local populace should also avoid keeping their surrounding dirty as keeping surrounding clean is everyone’s right,” Dr Sami said.
On the narrow staircase, the BMO again shirked responsibility.
Even serious patients have to be taken to operation theatre through a narrowly-constructed staircase, which flies in the face of regulations.
“You are asking this question to a wrong person. What can I do, if the hospital does not have a lift facility, but very soon the construction work on other portion will be completed and the problem will be solved as that portion has a large space” Dr Sami said.
Even a digital X-ray facility is not available. The hospital management says that a proposal for digital X-ray equipment has been sent to the government.
“What are the patients supposed to do? Government says we spend millions on healthcare. The new budget has money allocated for health. Then why do patients have to suffer,” Afaaq Ahmed, a resident of Sopore said.
President Traders Federation Sopore Haji Mohd Ashraf, told Kashmir Reader that rather than helping the patients the hospital was only adding to their suffering.
“Qualified doctors are not available during night, Ayurvedic doctors deal with patients. I have already brought this to the notice of BMO Sopore but till this date no action has been taken,” Ashraf said.
General Secretary, Civil Society Sopore, Rayees Ahmad said the hospital was taking brunt of being a hospital in Sopore, “where every development work is seen through the prism of politics”.
“It is simply the political interventions that are responsible for the sorry state of affairs at the leading hospital in north Kashmir” Rayees said.
Serious patients are mostly referred to Srinagar. Employees admit that patients lose a lot of time in the 50 km journey, weakening their chances of recovery.
A large number of patients visit for minor complaints, as the condition of primary health centres in Sopore block is equally dismal.
“I have come from Dangerpora village of Sopore. My daughter is pregnant a needs a routine checkup but the primary health centre constructed in our area before few years has not been put to use and we have to travel from far distance to the Sopore hospital, even for a simple check-up”, Rajab Kak, an old man told Kashmir Reader.
However, the BMO said, all the primary health centres in Sopore block will be operational by March end.
District Development Commissioner Baramulla,Nasir Ahmad Naqash told Kashmir Reader that the construction of developmental infrastructures depends on the flow of funds.
“Once the funds are released the work in Sopore under construction hospital building will be done,” Naqash said.
The traders federation and civil society want Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to personally look into the condition of Sopore SDH and ensure its upkeep.
Director of Health, Dr Saleem Rehman didn’t respond to repeated calls by the reporter.