Baramulla: Just when people of north Kashmir thought that their long wait of having a trauma hospital in the region was over, with the first such centre officially opening at Pattan in August this year, the authorities have made plans to turn it into just another general hospital.
Being a conflict-ridden state, every district in Kashmir should ideally have trauma hospital facilities, but in the whole of northern Kashmir, with three large districts coming under it, there was not a single trauma centre till recently. However, even before the trauma hospital started functioning, plans have been made to shift the sub-district hospital (SDH) Pattan there.
The foundation stone for the trauma centre at Pattan was laid in 2003. The construction work was kick-started with the announcement made by the then Deputy Chief Minister Mangat Ram Sharma, who himself visited the Pattan tehsil and announced that a sum of Rs 7 crore had been released by the government for construction of the trauma centre, Degree College Pattan, and to make Palhallan a Model Village. It took almost 15 years to construct this trauma centre.
Ex-president of the traders’ union of Pattan, Abdul Rashid Bhat, a shopkeeper at Pattan main market, said that the trauma hospital was meant to deal with emergency, accident and other such cases. “However, despite passing of more than fifteen years, the trauma hospital has not started functioning. Now, in order to hide their failure, the authorities are mulling to shift the SDH Pattan to the trauma hospital.”
He added, “The transfer of staff and machinery from SDH Pattan to the trauma centre will affect the functioning of both the hospitals.”
The question that arises is why the authorities are adamant to shift the SDH Pattan, which has been running at the main market for decades, to the new trauma centre?
“The SDH Pattan is at a place which is easily accessible to everyone. The whole business of Pattan market is dependent on it. If it will be shifted to the trauma centre at Babatang, it will be devastating for the businessmen in the main market, as well as for the people of north Kashmir who will be denied facilities of a specialised trauma hospital in the region,” Rashid Bhat said.
Also, if the SDH Pattan is shifted to the trauma centre, patients will have to go through detailed security checking at the Babatang check post, during even the day, let alone the night. “People will avoid going to the trauma centre due to the strict security checks at the entry point of babatang,” Rashid Bhat added.
Sajad Ahmad, current president of the Pattan traders’ union, said that after people came to know that the authorities were shifting SDH Pattan to the newly constructed trauma centre, a representation was made to the Governor, the Governor’s Advisors, and to the district administration. “Everybody assured us that nobody would transfer SDH Pattan to the trauma centre. But the plan is already in motion to transfer it there,” Ahmad said.
“If they want to do good for us, they should improve the facilities at SDH Pattan by making it a concrete infrastructure, instead of the tin sheds it has,” Ahmad added.
Two days ago, on Saturday, Director of Health, Kunzun Dolma, visited Pattan. “We represented our case before her, which she listened to patiently and assured us that no shifting of SDH Pattan will take place. They made that assurance in front of us. But all signs indicate that the SDH will be shifted to the trauma centre. We have lost trust in everyone,” Ahmad said.
The Block Medical Officer of Pattan, Dr Masrat, did not receive calls from this reporter. Imran Reza Ansari, MLA from Pattan and a minister in the previous PDP-led government, also did not respond to calls from this reporter.
Director of Health Kunzun Dolma told Kashmir Reader that her department had not received sanction for any trauma centre in north Kashmir and the newly constructed hospital at Pattan will be used to run SDH Pattan. “But if we receive sanction from the government for a trauma centre, then it will be used as a trauma centre,” she said.