Non-Covid patient services severely affected in Kashmir

Non-Covid patient services severely affected in Kashmir hospitals

According to official figures, around 5,500 beds in J&K have been reserved for Covid-19 patients and more than 50 per cent of these are occupied currently

Patients on oxygen support, wait outside the Covid-19 facility of the Chest Disease Hospital in Jammu, Saturday, May 8, 2021. Credit: PTI Photo

As the entire attention of authorities is focused on combating the second wave of novel coronavirus, non-Covid-19 patient services have been severely affected in Kashmir hospitals.

According to official figures, around 5,500 beds in J&K have been reserved for Covid-19 patients and more than 50 per cent of these are occupied currently. In Kashmir, nearly 1,600 Covid patients are admitted which is roughly the total bed capacity of SKIMS and SMHS - the two major hospitals in the tertiary care category - together.

For close to a month now, outpatient department (OPD) and non-emergency services have been stopped in most of the tertiary-care hospitals in Srinagar as all resources have been diverted for combating Covid-19.

“Since late April, patients are unable to access medical services, termed routine but life saving in nature as focus is on Covid-19 pandemic,” a senior medico at Srinagar’s super-specialty SMHS said.

He said hundreds of cancer, tuberculosis, heart diseases and other patients are finding it difficult to visit hospitals due to the situation as focus is on emergencies and Covid-19 only.

At tertiary-care In SKIMS hospital in Srinagar, there is an emergency USG and ECG room having a single machine for hundreds of patients admitted in emergency which results in overcrowding.

 

“The scale of disruption in routine health services in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic in Kashmir is even larger than what is being projected.  Reduced access to both out-patient and hospitalisation services is proving to be fatal for several non-Covid patients,” Advocate Javeed Samad, who practices at J&K High Court, told DH.

Quoting an example, he said, attendants of the severely sick non-Covid patients have to fight with each other to get a USG or ECG done at the SKIMS. “It was a duty of the hospital administration to ensure that there is no overcrowding for small tests. The SKIMS has no dearth of funds and they can easily afford to have multiple USG and ECG machines for emergency patients,” Advocate Samad said.

“But alas they are least bothered about patient-care as there is a complete mismanagement in the hospital,” he alleged while adding that he was going to file a public interest litigation in the High Court in this regard.

Not only in Srinagar, but across peripheral healthcare set-up – the district and sub-district hospitals, patient services have been badly affected, a health official said.

“We have thousands of Covid-19 patients admitted across the hospitals in Kashmir, but have the same manpower as we had before. It is the common patient who is paying the price for it,” he said and added ailments besides Covid continue to take lives unseen and un-talked about.

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