In biting Kashmir cold,hospital forces patients outdoor

One of Kashmir's top hospitals forced its patients - some of them operated recently - out into the corridor,leaving them to battle the chill.

Written by MEHRAJ D LONE | Srinagar | Published: February 7, 2009 4:45 pm

As the snowfall and biting cold forced the people to rush to the warm interiors of their homes and offices,one of the valley’s top hospitals forced its patients – some of them operated recently – out into the corridor,leaving them to battle the chill.

After the authorities at Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital in Srinagar decided to paint the walls and fix the bathrooms of Ward 12,they ordered all the patients of the Ward to move out into the corridor. Though,the patients pleaded the hospital authorities to rethink the decision,they wouldn’t listen.

“We told them we would die of cold in the corridor but they said the corridor is centrally heated,” said Mohammad Ramzan Dar,45,who is undergoing treatment for Hernia and a chest ailment. “What can a poor man do? We had no choice but to move out”.

Now Dar,in Bed 5,shares the corridor with 25 other patients lined in the centre of the first floor corridor. In the absence of adequate nursing staff in the valley’s hospitals,scores of attendants also share the corridor with the patients,leaving barely any space even to move around.

“We have to sleep here on the floor and eat here and all the while people move around. It is like living in an open ground,” said Dar’s wife who attends him. “It is so cold during the night,a person would get paralyzed”.

Spending a night in the corridor in a single blanket has already taken its toll on her. “I have caught cold and cough and my right arm is in pain,” she says taking out two strips of tablets from her Pheran pocket as proof.

Though the hospital is centrally heated,the patients,however,say that the heating system hardly makes any difference in the open and long corridor,especially at night.

Four beds across from Dar,Mohammad Ashraf,his younger brother and wife are huddled around Junaid,Ashraf’s seven-year-old son who has been operated less than a week ago. Ashraf can’t understand why the hospital authorities decided to paint the hospital at this time of the year.

“Don’t they have any common sense?” he asks. “If they had to paint it,why didn’t they do it in the summer? If I don’t take care,I don’t know what will happen to my child”.

Shifting the patients to the corridor has also put the nursing staff to inconvenience. “Every patient needs some private space but here everything is in chaos. It is embarrassing even for us to tend to the patients here,in full public view,” says a member of the nursing staff. “With so many people here,even the sweepers can’t clean it properly. I am afraid it would turn filthy in a couple of days and breed more diseases”.

Meanwhile,the renovation work is going on at a snail’s pace. In a day and a half,the workmen have painted only a little over a half of a side room of the ward. “The workers told us it would take around ten days for the work to finish,” said Ghulam Hassan Wani,a patient. “Till then we have to remain here”.

The Medical Superintendent of the hospital,Dr Waseem Querishi,however,said that the patients would be shifted back to the ward by tomorrow. “The renovation had become necessary because fungus had grown on the walls and the bathrooms had choked. We could not wait,” Dr Querishi said.

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