Srinagar: Shabnum of Chadoora Budgam looks helplessly as her 2-year-old son Hafiz suffers an epileptic attack in the casualty ward of GB Pant Children’s Hospital on Friday. While the child shakes and screams occasionally, the mother tries to calm him but fails. Minutes later, her husband enters the ward and joins her. Unfortunately, he too fails to recover the child.
Other people present in the ward help them to control the baby, and nurses join too. But there is no doctor in sight to attend to the child. The lone consultant on duty is busy attending other serious patients.
The couple struggled for nearly an hour before bringing the child to rest. Hafiz suffered fits thrice in the past three days in the hospital and every time the parents struggled alone.
“Doctors have completely abandoned us after they announced the strike,” said Shabnum. She said that Hafiz is a special child as he suffered a brain stroke due to Encephalitis a few months ago. He has stopped eating through the oral route after the fits began.
“Nine days have already passed but there is no improvement in his condition. He suffers regular seizures every day but no doctor is available to see him and change his treatment plan. They come in the morning for a quick round and appear again the next day. His condition is deteriorating every day,” the distraught mother said.
Doctors have told the parents that an infection has severely affected Hafiz’s brain. He may not recover fully, the doctors say.
“We may lose him if doctors continue to show callousness,” a fearful Shabnum said.
Following the strike by resident doctors that began Tuesday, Hafiz and other ill children have been suffering in neglect. Some of the critical ones have been referred to SKIMS Soura.
Dilshada from Hyderpora has waited anxiously since Thursday to know the condition of Fatima Jan, her granddaughter. But the doctors who admitted her to the ward are on strike.
Fatima, who is just 7 months old, is suffering from a rare heart condition. She was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia.
“It’s a distressing situation for the whole family as we are unaware of her condition,” Dilshada said. She accused the government of ‘insensitivity’.
In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the overburdened nurses are struggling as there is no let-up in the patient load. “We try to help a lone doctor at night to handle sick babies who are on ventilator and warmers,” a nurse told Kashmir Reader.
There are more than 50 babies admitted in two ICUs and the nursing staff is limited, she said. “It’s a risky situation for all of us. Sick babies are difficult to handle and striking doctors should understand that,” said another nurse.
Medical Superintendent of the hospital, Dr Kawarjeet Singh, said that they have cancelled almost 100 admissions since the strike began. “We can’t burden ourselves in absence of resident doctors,” he said.
“The special children need special care which is only possible when the hospital has enough doctors. Our consultants are working hard to attend to every patient, but some gaps still remain as the patient load in this hospital is huge,” he said.
The MS appealed to the resident doctors to resume duties as soon as possible, “for the greater public good”. “Their demands will be solved once normalcy returns,” Dr Singh added.