Patients suffer as authorities delay shifting of DH Bandipora

Suhail Bhat
Bandipora, May 19: As authorities delay shifting the District Hospital Bandipora from an old cramped building to a new multistorey structure, patients in the area continue to suffer.
The locals alleged that despite the completion of construction work of new building the hospital continues to operate from the old, cramped structure due to unknown reasons. “The old building is insufficient to cater to the huge rush of patients that visit the hospital every day. Presently, the doctors see patients in makeshift sheds outside the old building”, Mohammad Hanief, a local from Aloosa area of Bandipora said, adding there were high chances of infection to patients because staff has no time to wash their hands or clean equipment adequately.
Aimed at tackling the issues of overcrowding and space constraints, a new building for the hospital was allotted and work was, subsequently, started in 2000. With an estimated cost of Rs 24.32 crores, the project was handed over to the Jammu and Kashmir Projects and Corporation (JKPCC) but the hospital continues to operate from the old building despite passing of several years. “The speed of the work is directly proportional to the flow of funds.  More than 90 percent of the work is complete despite a liability of nearly Rs 7 crores”, an official said.
The hospital is supposed to cater to the population of over 40 villages of district Bandipora and lack of space forces patients to visit Srinagar, Baramulla and Sopore for medical treatment. “Several patients had died while being shifted to the other centers. The Hospital is overburdened and overcrowded and it takes a lot of time to get treatment here. Most of the times the doctors simply send the patients away without even examining the patients,” Mohammad Jamal, a local said, adding people who needs hospital admission end up lying on the trolleys for hours in the corridor.
Dr Syed ur Rehman, Block Medical Officer, said despite being a 30-bedded hospital, only 12 could be put to use in the hospital. “Lack of space for beds often forces us to defer the surgeries. It has also limited our working capacity, forced us to deliver our services from the temporary sheds,” he said. “Services like OPD, emergency and immunization are delivered from these nondescript sheds.”
The locals said they have been requesting to the Government for the shifting of the hospital because over 50,000 residents bank on it for healthcare. They said at the time of construction the locals were assured of getting a full-fledged hospital, a promise that still remained unfulfilled.
“Government’s failure to complete the project within stipulated time showed indifferent nature of the authorities towards the problems of the people living in rural areas. We were happy after the construction started but because of Government’s lassitude, we have lost all the hopes,” Mehran Bashir, a local said.
The locals informed that in the beginning, the construction was delayed by two years because of a tussle between two local groups over the construction site. “Two years were lost due to a tussle between two local groups. It also wasted some money as well”, Owais Ahmad, a local said, adding that both patients and doctors are suffering due to lack of space.
As per locals, in absence of the much-needed structure, the hospital administration has converted the existing Sub District Hospital into District Hospital and that was affecting the effective delivery of healthcare in the area.”The authorities have built some makeshift room in order to cater to the rush of the patients. The space constraint is affecting the functioning of the hospital. Unless the new building is not completed the move to grant District Hospital to Bandipora is useless,” they said.
The Deputy Commissioner Bandipora, when contacted, said the hospital would be shifted to the new building by the end of next month as some finishing works are pending. “Some finishing works are pending and that is causing the delay. By the end of June the hospital will be completely shifted to new building,” he said.