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HT Spotlight: Ventilators needed to treat critical patients at Chandigarh’s govt hospital

Homeopathy and ayurvedic students interning with GMSH-16 say they are helping patients with stitching, monitoring vitals like blood pressure, take blood samples and assist in deliveries, at times without the guidance of any senior doctor at emergency and OPDs.

punjab Updated: Mar 19, 2018 13:02 IST
Tanbir Dhaliwal
The emergency building of the city’s oldest hospital, GMSH-16. Critical patients are rushed to the PGIMER or GMCH-32 as the emergency does not have a single ventilator.
The emergency building of the city’s oldest hospital, GMSH-16. Critical patients are rushed to the PGIMER or GMCH-32 as the emergency does not have a single ventilator.(HT Photo)

Filthy trolleys with blood stains on it and broken wheelchairs welcome you to the emergency building of the city’s oldest hospital, Government Multi-Specialty Hospital, Sector 16, Chandigarh. Not only this, the emergency does not have a single ventilator, rushing the critical patients to nearby PGIMER or GMCH-32, which also has 100% occupancy.

Dr Satbir Singh, in-charge of the emergency services, said the 65-bed emergency ward has 80 to 100 patients at any given point of time. The proposal to have a 6-bed ICU is hanging fire for years.

“Can you imagine the state of the emergency, which does not have ventilators?” asked one of the employees of the hospitals.

When asked Dr Satbir Singh said, “It is under process. I cannot comment more on this.”

Patients with minor ailments dominate ward

In the absence of the advanced health care facilities or specialists in various departments, the hospital’s emergency ward is dominated by patients suffering from minor ailments. “At any given point there are over 80 patients. The patient load is seasonal and as the season changes, a majority of cases of diarrhoea, high fever, dengue will start reporting,” said Dr Satbir.

70 critical patients referred to other hospitals

The rush in this emergency is nowhere in comparison to emergencies of other government hospitals- PGIMER, GMCH-32. Last week, nearly 70 critical patients were referred to other hospitals from GMSH-16.

Dr Satbir said at any given point of time, there are two emergency medical officers, two interns, 8 staff nurses and one medical officer from surgery, orthopaedics, medicine, paediatrics.

‘Emergency officers should be regular’

A senior most health official said, “Emergency medical officers should be the regular appointees and not those hired on contract. The sincerity and credentials of a doctor hired on contract will be different from those hired on regular basis.”

Homeopaths at emergency

At the emergency of the Government Multi-Specialty Hospital, Sector 16, not every doctor wearing a lab coat is an MBBS, but could be interns from homeopathy or ayurvedic backgrounds as well.

Every year, the third semester students from Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital Chandigarh, Sector 26, and other colleges are sent to the GMSH-16 for training or internship, which is for nine to 10 months.

The students are posted in different departments such as paediatrics, medicine, gynaecology and are further posted in emergency, various wards, outpatient departments (OPDs).

They are not mere observers but they do stitching of wounds, general examination of patients, monitor vitals like blood pressure, take blood samples and assist in deliveries as well.

A third year student from Homeopathic college whose sixth month of training is going on at the emergency of GMSH-16 said, “Our training is for 10 months and so far I have worked with paediatrics, eye, casualty, surgery, gynaecology, ENT and dental. Out of these, the emergency services were of paediatrics, casualty and surgery.”

“The doctors teach us how to make correct diagnoses and stitching. After three to four sessions of learning, we do it on our own,” she said.

Quite keen to practice allopathy, the homeopathy student said, “I really want to practice allopathy, that’s why I spend most of my time in the emergency ward. I even come for night duty as well. After completing my degree, I would want to practice allopathy as well. Now the government has come up with the bridge course, the training will help me a lot.”

Another homeopathy student, who is done with the internship, said, “I remember the first day I had gone to emergency and they told me to check the blood pressure. I was so scared while monitoring the pressure, I do not even know if that was correct.”

She added, “There are MBBS interns from whom we learn, there is no one senior to guide us. Once they told me to do the stitches of a patient, who had a minor injury on the hand. That was quite scary, as I had never done that before. Ideally, a senior doctor must be present to monitor us.”

Sharing her experience, third intern said, “Once I was asked to take a blood sample and I was quite nervous. The patient got to know that I am nervous and he threw the needle away. But that MBBS intern made sure that I take a sample. She told me that we have to look confident and this is the only way to learn.”

A homeopathic student said, “At times,we tell the patients that we are house physicians, instead of telling them that we are homeopaths as we do not want patients to behave differently.”

There are many other such stories shared by students of homeopathy college, who have done their internship or are doing it.

‘Part of students’ curriculum’

When asked why homeopaths and ayurvedic students are allowed to do stitching and other jobs inside the emergency, Dr Satbir Singh, emergency medical officer, who is also an in-charge of the emergency, said, “That is a part of their curriculum. They assist doctors and are taught several times before they do stitching on their own. After all, we have to prepare young generation.”

Dr Ajay Aggarwal, president of Indian India Medical Association,Chandigarh, said, “Stitching a patient’s wound means that the homeopathy students are dealing with a patient, and endorse medicine as well, which we will not support.”

Dr Rakesh Kashyap, former, director health services, said, “There must be some official pact. I do not want to comment on the issue now.”

Dr G Dewan, director health services, was not available for comments.