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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

Doctors say can’t stay too long in Kedarnath, want 30-day shift reduced

Nihi Sharma Sahani, Hindustan Times  Dehradun, June 13, 2014
First Published: 16:17 IST(13/6/2014) | Last Updated: 16:20 IST(13/6/2014)

Doctors on duty at Kedarnath are finding it difficult to deal with climatic changes and other day-to-day challenges. That’s why they have demanded that the health authorities should shorten their service period at the shrine from one month to a fortnight. The health department is now preparing other teams to replace the existing ones at the shrine.

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Shared Dr GS Joshi, director general (health) with Hindustan Times, “We had sent teams to Kedarnath for the safety of pilgrims for one month each. However, the doctors are now demanding to make it a rotation shift of 15 days. They shared how challenging it is to survive at Kedarnath. Thus, we are constituting other teams so that we can replace those at the temple.”

Along with a physician and surgeon, each health team at Kedarnath has one pharmacist, two nurses, and four fourth-class employee. While there are two teams at the temple, other teams were deployed along the route. The doctors were deployed from Dehradun while support staff were deployed from Chamoli and Rudraprayag districts. Dr Joshi shared that doctors are encountering problems like lack of warm water for bath and other things.

The health teams are staying in tents, which are not comfortable enough and do not keep them warm. Besides, due to high altitude, the level of oxygen is low, causing nausea.

Dr Gurupal Singh, chief medical officer (CMO) Dehradun district shared, “It’s difficult terrain where no doctor wants to go. There are some serious risks involved in living in Kedarnath. Now, there’s a demand to send doctors by rotation. We are trying to constitute fresh teams which will replace existing ones. If we send doctors for a fortnight’s duty at Kedarnath, even then health services in the capital will suffer. However, we are trying to strike a balance.”

There are two teams at Kedarnath shrine, one near the temple, and the other one near a helipad. Both teams are assigned of diagnosing ailments and provide emergency help if needed. There are seven other teams on the yatra route for pilgrims. While doctors on yatra route have been arranged from nearby stations, those at Kedarnath have gone from Dehradun.

HT tried to contact Dr Deepak Sundriyal, physician of Doon District Hospital currently at Kedarnath shrine, but due to poor network connectivity, could not talk to him.


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