Chemotherapy patients at SKIMS share beds, washrooms

Chemotherapy patients at SKIMS share beds, washrooms
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Director ‘insists’ that the reporter visit after a week to check redress of grievances


SRINAGAR: The oncology department’s day care ward at the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) lacks basic facilities like sanitation, beds and adequate staff.
Ward 1P is meant for administering chemotherapy and radiotherapy to cancer patients. There are three shifts every day: at 8am, 11am and 2pm. Each shift sees 24 to 26 patients.
As per the hospital administration’s schedule, it takes three hours for each patient to receive a chemotherapy dose. In reality, each dose takes five hours. Together with the shortage of beds, this results in patients having to share beds. To add to the disgrace, beds lie unutilised in a vacant ward right beside.
“I came at 10:30am for the second shift, which starts at 11am. But we got our turn at 3pm due to lack of beds. My husband had to go through a lot to get his turn,” said the wife of Ghulam Hussain, a patient who comes from Dalgate for treatment of his stomach cancer.
“The SKIMS washroom is in a very poor condition,” she said. “Not only does it stink, it is far away from the day care ward and is common for both patients and attendants. Also, there are only a handful of people in the ward to tend to the patients. It takes 15 to 20 minutes to make a drug for a single patient, but there are only one or two staff members allotted for this purpose.”
Bashir Ahmed, who came from Kupwara with his ill brother, said, “I have been waiting here with my patient since 8am. It is almost noon and I am still waiting. My brother is not well enough to be in crowded places as he is prone to infection.”
Head of the Department of Oncology, Dr Gul Mohammad, said, “I have taken charge here last week, so I am not fully aware of the current situation but will take the matter into consideration. There are a lot of loopholes, and we will try our best to mend them.”
When asked about the sanitation problem and the shortage of beds, he said, “I will personally visit the washrooms and make sure they are kept clean and that the doors are equipped with bolts. People should also be aware of the fact that this is their hospital and they should not make it unhygienic. As a responsible citizen, one should try not to scatter food items, cigarette butts and other waste in the wards, corridors and washrooms. Further, I will try my level best to make use of the other vacant ward so that we can cater to the huge inflow of the patients. It will take time as I have to talk to the hospital administration.”
When Kashmir Reader contacted the Director SKIMS, Dr Umar Javaid Shah, he summoned Dr Gul Mohammad and paid heed to the grievances he presented before him.
“As far as proper sanitation is concerned, I agree with you,” he said. “It is of utmost importance for any person and for cancer patients in particular. I will personally look into the matter so that there is no scope of such complaints in future. Secondly, about the lack of staff, it needs proper recruitment, depending on finances. It will not happen overnight. We have already taken it into consideration and forwarded the matter to the higher authorities. As far as the availability of the vacant ward is concerned, it may have been allotted to another department. I will again see what can be done. But I will make sure to enhance the number of beds in the ward as soon as possible.”
He added, “Indeed, I would insist that you visit the hospital after a week to check whether the grievances have been addressed or not.”