Six months have passed since Professor Jagat Ram took over as director of PGIMER. Dr Jagat Ram discusses with Adil Akhzer the challenges that the premier health institute of the region faces and its achievements in the last six months. To deal with the huge inflow of patients, some doctors at PGIMER have suggested a cap on the number of patients. But, the PGI director says capping the number of Emergency patients is impossible. Instead, upgrading and strengthening infrastructure should be the best option.
It’s been six months since you joined as director, PGIMER. What is the present situation?
The work is on. There has been significant improvement in the institute’s main Emergency where at any given point of time, patient number varies from 500-700. A lot of thrust has been given to the Emergency where patients are kept lying for even more than 30 days. Now, the situation has improved considerably and the patients’ management time has been reduced. Doctors have clear directions that Emergency patients should be treated on top priority and promptly. For instance, a patient, who lands in the Emergency, requires attention for multiple problems. Prompt diagnosis is done and a team of doctors attends to the patient and prescribes further treatment.
There is a heavy rush of patients at the Emergency. How are you managing it? Is capping the patients’ number an option?
Capping is impossible. Patients are coming mostly from the neighbouring states. We had been holding discussions on this with the health departments of neighbouring states. If they filter the patients that are being referred to PGIMER, it would surely help us manage the heavy rush. One of the solutions is that once a patient’s condition is all right, he/she can be sent back to the place from which had referred him/her to us. If a surgery is done, then he can be shifted back to that state’s health facilities. Some doctors at PGI are doing that now.
Secondly, we need to sensitise the neighbouring states that there should be “proper referrals”. Unless a patient genuinely requires a referral to PGI, health facilities in the neighbouring states should take due care of him/her. We are also working on the modalities to start a programme in the Emergency medicine and Infectious Disease so that more doctors can be deployed in the Emergency. I have already asked the concerned departments to send me their inputs on this.
Some doctors have also sent it in writing, requesting you to start capping the number of patients on the lines of AIIMS. How do you view it?
Personally, I am of the opinion that capping is impossible. When a patient comes in an emergency situation, we have to treat him. It is our moral responsibility as well as professional commitment.
What are your major achievements in the last six months?
Government of India has sanctioned three major projects – Mother and Child Care Centre, Advanced Neurosciences Centre and a Satellite Centre in Una, Himachal Pradesh. Soon, we shall be initiating all the requisite procedures so that these centres can come up and become functional.
Many patients complain that doctors reach OPDs late in the morning. What steps are being taken to ensure they reach on time?
We are encouraging doctors to attend the OPDs on time so that more and more patients can be examined. Circulars have been issued directing doctors to be more prompt. As such they keep examining patients in the OPDs till late evenings considering the number of patients visiting is too high. On an average, around 10,000 patients are examined at PGI OPDs daily.
What is being done to improve research at PGI?
Research is the major area where a lot needs to be done. To streamline the academic and research, two separate posts of Dean (Academic) and Dean (Research) have been created. I and Dean Research (Dr D Behera) will meet doctors at the departments to see what problems they face in terms of research. We shall try our best to ensure that research work is not hampered and quality research is produced by the institute.
When is the under-construction 250-bed hospital likely to start functioning?
Efforts are on to complete the 250-bed centre as early as possible. Regular meetings are being held with the concerned departments to expedite construction work. It is one of my top priorities. Because, once this centre starts functioning, it will help us reduce the burden at Nehru Hospital as four major departments — Hepatology, Endocrinology, Radiotherapy and ENT — shall be shifted to the new block. The remaining departments, currently functional at Nehru Hospital, shall get more space and will be upgraded with better facilities.
Several instances of doctors’ infighting have come to light. How do you plan to tackle that?
It has to be a team work and there should be harmony. If there is conflict, no constructive work can be done. We are holding meetings with various departments and all the doctors are called to those meetings to ensure they interact among themselves. We want to end any conflict within the departments at the institute. Conflict can hinder the institute’s progress.
It is learnt that PGI has not been able to get an adequate number of doctors for its proposed satellite centre in Una. Is there any political pressure?
No, not at all. We will get adequate number of doctors soon. We shall also be issuing an advertisement in this regard shortly. The satellite centre shall, in fact, be of great help to people of Una and its neighbouring areas.