HT Interview: PGIMER is overburdened due to referrals

As Dr Jagat Ram retires, HT talks to him about his tenure as the PGIMER director and key challenges for his successor and the institute
Dr Jagat Ram, director, PGIMER, retired on Sunday after over four decades in the profession. (HT File Photo)
Dr Jagat Ram, director, PGIMER, retired on Sunday after over four decades in the profession. (HT File Photo)
Published on Nov 01, 2021 01:30 AM IST
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ByMandeep Kaur Narula, Chandigarh

Dr Jagat Ram, director, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), retired on Sunday after over four decades in the profession and leading the fight against Covid-19 at the institute. HT talks to him about his tenure, key challenges for his successor and how the institute can provide best facilities to patients who throng it from across the region.

How do you look at your tenure as PGIMER director?

My tenure that lasted four years and seven months was both satisfying and challenging. When I joined the post, I had several issues at hand but I made every possible effort to provide the best medical facilities to people. The biggest challenge was handling the Covid-19 pandemic and balancing between Covid and non-Covid medical facilities. Meeting infrastructure and oxygen requirements was also tough, but with effective team work, we were able to manage the situation. During my tenure, the institute has been the second-best medical institution in the country for four years successively.

What are the key challenges facing the PGIMER?

The institute is overburdened as the health facilities in neighbouring states are inadequate. Over 35% of total patients getting admitted to PGIMER belong to Punjab. Due to more referral cases, the hospital’s emergencies run double the capacity with patients even on stretcher trolleys. The patient care gets hampered. Also, maintaining harmony among the PGIMER faculty and staff is a challenge.

And what are the possible solutions?

Plans have been made to increase capacity at the institute’s emergencies, and even medical emergencies at trauma centres will help in providing more facilities. Also, PGIMER is ready to give training to doctors from other states, so that health facilities can be improved there and referral case load can decrease.

How has the patient load impacted the institute’s key focus on research?

The faculty remains busy in providing quality treatment to patients. Despite that, they are making efforts to contribute to research work. Over 2,500 research papers were published in 2021 and PGIMER also contributed some excellent research works during Covid-19 pandemic.

Some big ticket projects are stuck, including satellite centres and some on the campus. What explains the delayed implementation?

The Satellite Centres at Sangrur and Mother and Child Care Centre at PGIMER are near completion. Also, work has been started at Satellite Centres in Ferozepur and Una, and a project at Sarangpur. Getting clearances and enough manpower delayed the implementation while Covid-19 situation was another reason.

What is your take on the trend of highly competent doctors leaving PGIMER?

Many doctors prefer money and they move out of PGIMER to join private facilities. This is their personal choice but with money, they should also keep focus on providing facilities to the needy patients.

What is your advice to young doctors and those who want to pursue medical profession?

The young doctors must be competent and must have empathy towards the patients. Also, they should stick to the ethics of medical profession.

PGIMER’s handling of Covid has been criticised. Even at the peak, it only admitted 500 patients. What was the reason?

PGIMER was only admitting severe Covid-19 patients with big health complications. The mild or moderate patients were getting treatment at other facilities. The patients were being admitted keeping in mind the institute’s infrastructure capabilities as we also had to balance with emergency non-Covid patients.

What will be your advice to your successor?

The next director must know the PGIMER inside out. He must build strong relationships and harmony among employees and should deal with the challenges calmly. He should work for the betterment of the institute and society.

What are your post-retirement plans?

I am getting several offers and will join some government or private institute so that I can serve people. Along with it, I will continue to provide free treatment to poor people. I will continue to give eyesight to partially or fully blind people through my surgeries, as it is my dream.

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