Echocardiography sections of GMCH Jammu, SSH virtually closed as Echo machines out of order

Representative Image

Patients forced to move to private diagnostic centres
Govind Sharma
JAMMU, Apr 14: The Echocardiography sections of Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Jammu as well as Super Speciality Hospital (SSH) Jammu have virtually been closed as the Echo machines have been lying dysfunctional in both the hospitals for last more than one month.
Official sources told Excelsior that both the Echo machines, one in GMCH Jammu and other in SSH Jammu went out of order over a month back and since then both the machines are lying unused and authorities concerned failed to get them repaired, leaving the patients to suffer or move to private diagnostic centres.
Sources said that both the Echo machines are very old and outdated vis-à-vis in comparison to what is being used in SKIMS Soura, GMC Srinagar or in private diagnostic centres in Jammu. “In last few years, these old Echo machines witnessed frequent breakdowns but every time the authorities managed to get them repaired. However, this time the engineers have expressed their inability to repair these machines citing unavailability of their spare parts in the market as these machines have become obsolete,” they added.
Stating that the Echo machine of the SSH was actually not working properly for the last two years and the concerned doctors conveyed the same to higher authorities and requested them several times in last two years to procure the new machines for both the Echocardiography sections, sources said had their (doctors’) requests were paid heed and the new machines were procured timely, the patients would not have been suffering now.
“On an average more than 60 to 80 patients, mostly poor, coming from different parts of Jammu division, get the benefit of daily service of echocardiography at GMCH Jammu and SSH, and now all these patients are bound to get their tests done from the private diagnostic centres while bearing huge costs against it,” they added.
Sources maintained that an echocardiography is a type of medical imaging of the heart, using standard ultrasound or Doppler ultrasound, which is routinely used in the diagnosis, management and follow-up of patients with any suspected or known heart diseases. It is one of the most widely used diagnostic tests, they said, adding, it plays a pivotal role in the diagnosis and management of COVID complicated and very sick patients requiring critical care.
“As a temporary arrangement, one portable Echo machine, which is the part of CTVS Department at present, is being shared by the Cardiology Department in SSH Jammu for emergency cases but the routine OPD patients are still deprived of the facility”, sources disclosed.
Meanwhile, while interacting with this correspondent, a patient’s attendant at SSH Jammu, said, “We are very poor and could not afford the heavy cost outside the hospital as our patient is very sick and ambulatory. The doctors here are telling us to get Echo test done from outside as their Echo machines are out of order”.
He said “as we have Golden Health Card we were happy that we would get free treatment here but now we are being told to go to private diagnostic lab for the Echo test, which we cannot afford”. He said what type of Super Speciality Hospital is this where even a functional Echo machine is not with the Cardiology Department.
When contacted, HoD Cardiology Department, Dr Sushil Sharma admitted that both the Echo machines are out of order. However, he said no patient coming in the OPD under his unit are being asked to go outside for Echo test and it is being done by him by using Echo machine of the CTVS Department. He, however, said they have already written to the higher authorities for procurement of two new Echo machines.
Principal, GMC Jammu, Dr Shashi Sudhan Sharma, on being contacted, said that the machines are out of order before she took over as Incharge Principal. She said earlier they had placed the order with J&K Medical Supplies Corporation but as it was time consuming process, they have taken No Objection Certificate from the Corporation and placed order for the two machines on Government e-Marketplace (GeM) portal and are hoping to get the same very soon.