Stem the rot in GMC Hospital

At least, the alibi of shortage of funds, as is usually the proverbial “whipping boy” with the non performing departments and their heads put forward as an excuse, cannot be true of the prestigious Government Medical College and Hospital Jammu. Utter mismanagement, disarray and confusion is what otherwise, one usually comes across in this hospital. Management part is crucial and sensitive in any institution, not to speak of hospitals where people go under extreme circumstances to save lives and to get relief from ailments. Having said so, there should be all facilities for patients and a responsive infrastructure for Doctors to perform their duties and treat patients.
We are dismayed at the state of affairs which were witnessed in this premier Government Hospital on Sept 12 when acute shortage of life saving and critically important oxygen was found in acute short supply commensurate with the demand of the needy patients. Reports are pouring in about acute discomfiture and problems suffered by many patients due to low pressure of oxygen . With the ”advent” of the deadly COVID pandemic , was not it envisaged as back as in initial days of its impact – say in March- April about the position likely to emerge around peak period of its impact around August – September as many experts had warned so, that additional oxygen plant could have been installed to augment the supply to cope up with the increased rush of the patients. How was it either envisaged by the planners in the Health and Medical Education Department and the local management of the hospital or by the top bureaucrats in the administration that such a situation, as was witnessed on Sept 12, would never surface or COVID would vanish on its own without bothering them to plan in anticipation how to face the situation.
Has any authority visited the hospital to take stock of the situation on the Isolation Ward, Emergency Unit, ICU, CCU and other sensitive areas as to how patients suffered. Agreed, on daily basis 4 to 5 hundred oxygen cylinders are being purchased by the hospital but that was neither the solution nor catering to the spike in the number of the incoming patients. As against a required strength of 6000 LMP, there was a paltry availability of just 1200 LMP of oxygen and that was neutralising any expecting gains from procuring oxygen cylinders from the market. And about the cylinders purchased from the market , that process too is reported to be mismanaged .If the estimates, if not forewarning of the experts, are to be given any credence, the worst is still far away and to remain ignorant about the threat and not to ready ourselves to meet that, would simply prove disastrous and things unmanageable. It is a tragedy that some deaths reportedly have either been caused due to erratic, short, low pressure of oxygen or the inevitable taking place unfortunately caused to be hastened.
Doctors are hard pressed these days and agreeably, these days would not be on permanent basis but hopefully, last for a couple of months more, analogically speaking just like a war breaking out which was bound to come to an end but the soldiers had to fight come what may which obviously, they cannot do without weapons . In the same way, Covid warrior soldiers, the Doctors had to be provided with the basic infrastructure to help them treat the patients in the highest traditions of their profession. It is due to these reasons, a delegation of junior Doctors met the Principal GMC Hospital and made an appeal through a representation to ensure uninterrupted supply of oxygen to all units including the Isolation Ward to save the patients and to provide an insulation to them from the wrath of the patients’ attendants.
As if the mess about oxygen and related issues plaguing the hospital was any less , the confusion around was compounded by the senior Doctors remaining unavailable in the wards, Emergency unit, ICUs, CCUs, etc putting the entire brunt on the junior Doctors . Strangely, it could not be called a coincidence or a near routine affair, as this trend was observed in addition to GMC Hospital in other COVID special Hospitals too. We cannot attribute such a scenario to cashing unduly the situation arisen due to COVID crisis. We have reports not pertaining to the incident of Sept 12 but earlier also, that in spite of frantic calls from the Emergency unit for requisitioning the services of the senior Doctors and Surgeons, they have been either not responding to calls or simply ignoring such requests from the resident and junior Doctors. Warriors as they are, like on the front, dealing with a peculiar and challenging situation, such an attitude even in isolated cases was unethical and contrary to highest traditions of this noblest profession, not to speak of obligation towards their duty for which the Government pays them from the public exchequer. We are pained to see such a situation emerging at a time when meeting the unprecedented situation arising from the COVID Pandemic, all pronged concerted attention to the suffering people was needed the most. We reiterate , this is a transitional period and what is required is dedication and commitment which we hope , there is in abundance to harness.