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HT Spotlight: One doctor for 100 patients; it is first aid, no critical care at Mohali civil hospital

In an emergency: With one doctor attending to 100-odd patients with a group of students, there is very little by way of emergency care at Mohali Civil Hospital.

punjab Updated: Mar 16, 2018 15:02 IST
Shub Karman Dhaliwal
Shub Karman Dhaliwal
Hindustan Times, Mohali
healthcare,healthcare in Punjab,shortage of doctors
With no ventilator and intensive care unit, there is much that is lacking in the 200-bed civil hospital at Mohali. Besides, the hospital doesn’t have cardiac, ultrasound, X-ray facility after 8pm and nurses at night.(HT File)

With no ventilator, no intensive care unit (ICU), no X-rays after8 pm, no cardiac ultrasound, no stress test and no nurse at night, there is much that is lacking in the 200-bed district civil hospital at Mohali. And the less said the better about its emergency ward.

Manned by a doctor, the four-room ward, which goes by the name of emergency ward, and receives 100 patients a day, doesn’t even meet the standards stipulated for a first-aid centre. This is despite the fact that the hospital is right next to the headquarters of Punjab Health Systems Corporation, which is mandated to provide all equipment and infrastructure to the civil hospitals in the state.

Primary care

Both patients and doctors admit that the emergency ward is at best a first-aid centre. A wizened old man with a flowing beard, who was on a drip at the emergency following a fracture, was grateful for both the drip and his wife. “The hospital is short of medical staff, we have to do all the running around ourselves,” explained his wife.

Shaam Singh, a villager from Mataur, who had come with a relative to emergency, said, “The hospital hasn’t changed for years. The staff members are themselves demoralised by the sheer number of patients they have to treat. Many a time, the doctors lose their cool on petty issues because they are tired.”

All too aware of the hospital’s shortcomings, the doctors are quick to refer any critically ill or injured patient to PGIMER, GMCH- 32 or any other hospital after first-aid.

Also read | HT Spotlight: One doctor for 30 patients, it’s a pressure cooker situation in PGIMER emergency

One doctor, 100 patients

A doctor lamented, “There is only one doctor per shift to attend to more than 100 patients. It’s easier to handle the rush in the morning, given that a number of students are interning with us but a lone doctor has to handle 100-odd patients at night.”

He rued that most of the doctors don’t respond to phone calls made to them to rush to hospital in case of any emergency or sudden inflow of accident victims, etc.

From patients with high blood pressure and low sugar to victims of accidents and burns, the emergency receives a wide gamut of patients, especially at night.

There is an X-ray machine in the hospital but the operator is available for just one 12-hour shift, which begins at 8 in the morning. No X-rays are done at night, and it is only in the rarest of the rare cases that the attendant is called from home.

The doctors say that in case of any major accident in the area, they refer the patients straight to Chandigarh hospitals because the lone doctor on duty at the emergency ward cannot attend to so many patients at one go. Moreover, he/she is handicapped by lack of facilities at the emergency.

The staff maths

Though a 200-bed hospital requires at least 10 nursing sisters (head nurses), this hospital has been making do with just one from the day it was a primary health centre to the present day. She not only handles 64 nurses but the safai karamcharis as well. “There has been no change in the number of nurses, only the beds have increased from 20 to 200,” groused a doctor.

Interestingly, while the hospital is woefully short of infrastructure, many departments have more doctors than their sanctioned strength. The gynaecology department, for instance, has four doctors against the sanctioned strength of two. It’s ditto for the medicine department. The ophthalmology department too has three doctors against one sanctioned post. Likewise, in pathology department, there are two doctors against one post. However, there are only ten medical officers even though the sanctioned strength is of 16 doctors.

The hospital is authorised 27 posts of Class IV employees, but it has only 15 of whom one is away on deputation. “Sometimes, we have to get the services of a gardener or safai sewak to do the dressing on a patient in case of an emergency,” said a staff member requesting anonymity. A doctor rued that in the absence of supervision at night, there are few staff nurses on duty in the evening.

The hospital is authorised 27 posts of Class IV employees, but it has only 15 of whom one is away on deputation. (HT File )

‘Work on hospital to start tomorrow’

Civil Surgeon Rita Bhardwaj, when asked about the deplorable condition of the civil hospital, said, “We are doing our best in the given circumstances. The advice we give to the doctors is not to lose their cool with patients as they are in immense pain.”

Bhardwaj said the health department has approved plans to revamp the emergency and decongest the hospital.

“Today we had a meeting with the Punjab Health Systems Corporation for finalising the construction of a new improved emergency and OPD. The construction work will start tomorrow.”

The new emergency ward will be more spacious with better facilities, she added.

Critically ill patients don’t come here

Asha Rani, a resident of Shahimajra village, who was in the hospital for a check-up, said, “My family comes to this hospital regularly. However, when it comes to treating patients with a medical emergency, they usually refer patients to Chandigarh. So, most patients who need critical care themselves rush to PGI or other hospitals.”

First Published: Mar 16, 2018 10:11 IST