Srinagar: Patient after patient is carried out – one in a bloodstained trolley doubling as an ambulance, another in a relative’s lap, a third in a broken wheelchair while intravenous line and catheter are still attached to the patient.
This is the common scene outside Kashmir’s premier health institution, SMHS Hospital, where doctors have to refer every patient to the nearby Super Specialty Hospital (SSH) for simple diagnostic tests like MRI and ECHO.
“Critical patients have to cross the main road and face traffic, while their attendants carry them helplessly,” said a doctor.
He said the patients face life threat due to infection, while their attendants face exertion and other difficulties as they have to walk a long distance.
“Administration is busy in the renovation work of the hospital. They are doing nothing to ease the burden of ailing people coming to the hospital,” the doctor said.
Another doctor posted in the Emergency told Kashmir Reader that lack of diagnostic facilities at SMHS Hospital was forcing attendants to carry critical patients on wheelchairs and stretchers to the Super Specialty Hospital.
“It can lead to accidents and other medical emergencies but the government is doing nothing about it,” he said.
40-year-old Sakeena Begum of Kulgam has been put on dialysis by doctors at SMHS Hospital. However, lack of facilities at the health institution forced her husband to carry her in a wheelchair to the nearby super specialty hospital every time she needs the dialysis or diagnostic tests.
“It’s cumbersome and puts me in an awkward situation,” said Muhammad Shafi Wani, her husband.
“I have to take care of my kid also while carrying my ailing wife every other day on the wheelchair,” he said.
Sakeena was screaming in pain and had to carry her 2-year-old son while her husband pushed the wheelchair with her on it.
“Look at her urine bag and the intravenous pipe. It’s still attached to her. Isn’t this an issue while we travel and cross the road?” Shafi asked, pointing to the catheter attached to his wife.
Sakeena was admitted to the hospital two weeks ago, following complications after she delivered a stillborn baby.
“The last fifteen days were a nightmare for us. We had to spend from our own pockets. Nothing is free in this hospital except the glucose bottles. Amid all these difficulties, we have to travel on this wheelchair,” Shafi complained.
The Gojar family from Bandipora has been facing a similar situation since one week, due to MRI facilities not being available at SMHS.
“My father is an old man and is admitted in a critical condition. Still, we were asked to shift him to the other hospital on wheelchair for a simple test,” said Muhammad Qasim of Kudara Bandipora.
His father, Noor Muhammad Awian Gojar, has been diagnosed with vertigo and is also suffering from lack of strength in limbs. Despite all these complications he was made to wait for many hours at the SSH for an MRI.
“He is not able to stand or sit properly. Putting such a person to this situation is criminal on part of the hospital authorities,” said his other son, Noorani.
Mushtaq Ahmad from Charar-i-Sharief, who was carrying his injured son in his lap to get his ECHO test done at the SSH, said, “We only pray to Allah that nothing serious happens. Otherwise this is a big issue which the administration is ignoring.”
“The road across which the patients are carried is a busy stretch. God forbid if an accident takes place,” a senior doctor at SMHS said.
He said that the administration should construct an aerobridge to connect the two hospitals.
“The Government Medical College can push for construction of an aerobridge so that facilities of the super specialty hospital can be utilised without putting patients and their attendants to risk,” the doctor said.
Medical Superintendent of SMHS Hospital, Dr Saleem Tak, admitted that patients were facing problems as MRI and other tests were being done at the Super Specialty Hospital. However, he said, the hospital has kept ambulances available for patients who have to be carried to SSH.
“We have ambulances available 24/7 for such patients, but some people carry their patients themselves on wheelchairs and trolleys,” he said.
According to him, the Principal of GMC Srinagar sent a proposal to the government seven months ago for construction of an “overhead bridge” which will connect the two hospitals.
“It will solve many issues and will ease the burden on both the hospitals,” Dr Tak said.