With doctors facing the brunt of public anger due to lack of facilities at Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital amid the Covid-19 pandemic in Kashmir, frontline health workers are blaming the administration for not doing enough to enhance infrastructure and manpower amid the lockdown period. However, many locals and experts have blamed the doctors’ ‘behaviour’ for the mess reported Hindustan Times.
Patients’ attendants beat up three resident doctors, including a woman, in different incidents last week at Shri Maharaja Hari Singh(SMHS) Hospital, one of the premier tertiary care hospitals in Kashmir. Two doctors were seriously injured in the assault. While one doctor suffered a cervical vertebra fracture, another reported shoulder dislocation. The beatings also led to seizures in one of the health workers.
The hospital, earlier this month, had set aside four wards for people infected with the coronavirus after a surge in patients at Covid-19 designated hospitals in Kashmir.
The assaults prompted the doctors to go on strike, which affected patient care for some time. The incidents and the subsequent strike triggered a debate and war of words between doctors and the common people on social media.
‘WE ARE HELPLESS TOO’
The doctors blamed the administration for not doing enough to mitigate the dismal scenario at hospitals.
“This is the complete failure of the administration. They got three months to plan for Covid-19 response but nothing happened. People want us to provide them the best care but they don’t realise that we are as helpless as they are. When there is no infrastructure like oxygen ports and ventilators what will we do?” said a doctor, working in the casualty unit of the SMHS.
Another doctor said the hospital was lacking essential staff like doctors, nurses and orderlies.
“One nurse is catering to 50 patients while a nursing orderly has to take care of three wards at SMHS. We all are overburdened. Ideally, every ward should have four nurses and two nursing orderlies,” she said.
The doctor said people get agitated when they don’t find oxygen and ventilators. “In wards, we only have oxygen ports for one-third beds while it should be available for each bed. We have 19 ventilators but require double the number. Monitors are also not available,” she said.
In terms of security, the doctor says, the hospital is a mess: “The Covid wards are packed with not just patients but even suspected cases and their attendants. All of them are huddled there. A few days back, a Covid positive patient went out of the ward unnoticed and attended congregational Friday prayers and came back,” said the doctor.
However, locals are pinning the blame on behaviour and carelessness of doctors.
“Doctors, paramedics and hospital authorities deserve what they were given by attendants. My mother who tested Covid-19 negative died on Tuesday at SMHS ward 3, bed 17 because of doctors’ behaviour and carelessness,” Haroon Kar, a doctorate in English literature, said on Twitter.
“She didn’t die of anything, she died of carelessness, she died of not having doctors and paramedics around and she died because of SMHS hospital,” Kar said.
Doctors Association Kashmir president Nisar ul Hassan said that the overall environment at the SMHS was appalling.
“I would not even like my dog to get treated in SMHS Hospital such is the environment there, not to talk of taking my father or mother there. One can’t sit in the casualty for more than 15-20 minutes. Patients go to the hospital with hope but they return dissatisfied,” he said.
‘SENIOR DOCTORS NOT TAKING LEAD’
He also blamed senior doctors for not taking the lead in patient care. “You have one doctor catering to 50 patients and that too a junior doctor. Emergencies are taken care of by trainees and postgraduates, they are students. Senior doctors who are supposed to be there, especially in emergency medicine, are found missing while junior doctors, being inexperienced, have attitude problems,” he said.
He said patients get no dignity and respect at the hospital. “There is a lack of empathy and compassion from doctors or nurses toward the patient. The attendants do most jobs, which hospital authorities or hospital staff, have to do. What do you expect in such a scenario?” he said.
Director Health Services Samir Mattoo refused to comment saying that it was the domain of Government Medical College, Srinagar. A call to principal GMC, Srinagar Saima Rashid did not elicit any response.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Pandurang K Pole also did not respond reported Hindustan Times.