Srinagar: Patients are facing a harrowing time at SMHS Hospital where even simple blood tests are turning into an ordeal. Sageer Ahmad, 45, whose elderly mother was admitted to the hospital on Tuesday, had to run from pillar to post to hand over blood samples for various diagnostic tests. According to him, his family also faced rude and insensitive behaviour from the hospital staff.
“It took the hospital two days to diagnose my mother’s illness because of lack of proper testing facilities at SMHS Hospital. The staff also takes patients for granted, as is evident from their callous and rude behaviour,” Ahmad complained.
Ahmad said doctors at SMHS advised her mother a series of diagnostic tests including KFT, LFT, CBC, HCV, HIV and USG after she developed severe abdominal pain, but the employees at the Microbiology and Biochemistry labs told them to wait for two days to get the test reports.
Ahmad said he was first told by a paramedic in the emergency ward to drop the blood samples at F-Block, but there were no sign boards and the hospital staff was of no assistance in guiding him. Finally, when he reached there, an “angry looking female employee” told him to deposit the fees, without telling him where the fee counter was.
“After nearly half an hour, I located the counters and stood in a long queue. There were hundreds of people already occupying the corridors near the counters. After waiting for almost an hour at counter no. 3, the employee at the counter rudely sent me to counter no. 1, saying that this counter was not meant for depositing fees for these tests,” Ahmad said.
The employee even uttered inappropriate language, Ahmad said.
“He shouted at me and said, “You are illiterate and don’t know anything.” I couldn’t say anything as I was worried about my mother,” Ahmad said.
At counter no 1, he said, he was forced to stand in the queue again which consumed another hour. After so much trouble, when he went to the common collection room, an employee collected the blood samples and gave him a slip.
“To my utter shock, I was asked to collect the test reports the next day. I was anxious about the condition of my mother. I was worried how doctors will treat her without the test reports,” he said.
When he went to the doctors, they expressed helplessness and advised a few painkillers and antibiotics. But his mother’s condition worsened in a few hours.
“Her condition worsened in the evening and she was again shifted to emergency and put on ventilator support,” Ahmad said.
Like Ahmad, hundreds of people face such problems at SMHS Hospital. Mushtaq Ahmad, the attendant of a patient admitted to the hospital, said the common collection center (for test samples) at the hospital closes after 4pm.
Muhammad Amin, an elderly man from Pulwama district, was continuously screaming in pain in ward no 16. His family had not received his test reports even after 24 hours. Finally, a resident doctor advised them to get some tests done from a private diagnostic lab in Karan Nagar.
More than 2,000 patients arrive daily at SMHS Hospital for treatment. Most of the patients come from remote areas and with limited means. Sources in the hospital told Kashmir Reader that some of the staff work in connivance with private labs outside the hospital.
Medical Superintendent Dr Saleem Tak said the hospital was trying to streamline the process of testing by making it online, to save time of patients.
“We will make the process easy for everyone. Currently, the testing labs run for 24 hours in the Casualty and cater to the daily needs of every patient, especially the critical ones,” he said.
He said the Common Collection Center, which was opened recently with the help of two departments of GMC Srinagar, remains open up to 4pm daily.
“It has also reduced the burden of people. However, it is new to people and that is why they face some issues,” he said.
When asked about the behaviour of staff and difficulties faced in depositing fees, he said the counters are run by GMC Srinagar directly and “the administration of SMHS Hospital has little say in it.”