July 3, 2021 5:07:23 am
The healthcare infrastructure of Haryana — which is under stress with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic — is set to receive a major jolt, with 24 doctors of the state eyeing greener pastures and choosing to be deputed out to Chandigarh.
As per records, a total of 34 doctors had applied for the deputation from Haryana to join Chandigarh hospitals. Out of them, the requests of 24 — 19 specialists and five MBBS doctors — have been approved.
In orders passed by the Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij on June 21, the deputation of 24 doctors to Chandigarh, which had remained on hold since March 23 this year due to a spike in Covid cases, has now been lifted. “The transfer proposals/orders which were on hold during corona pandemic may be initiated,” the order said. The relieving orders for the deputation of these doctors, however, are yet to be issued by the state of Haryana.
The string of deputation, amid apprehensions of a third wave and a shortage of experienced healthcare workers, are set to affect several hospitals, CHCs and dispensaries which have acted as crucial Covid centres throughout the pandemic so far and have left their in-charge SMOs, CMOs in a maelstrom about the future.
Panchkula to get the biggest setback
Records showed that Panchkula is likely to be the district that is the worst hit, with a maximum of doctors to be deputed out from here. At least 14 of the 24 doctors who have been selected to be deputed to Chandigarh are currently posted in Panchkula. Of these, as many as eight are specialists from the Panchkula Civil Hospital itself. This civil hospital has acted as a crucial Covid care centre for the region in the past one and half years since the spread of the Covid virus began. The district has since ramped up its infrastructure from having no intensive care units (ICU), molecular laboratories or oxygen plants at their disposal to now operating almost 24 ICUs, 18 ventilators, 40 Bipap machines, atleast two covid dedicated blocks, an HDU for children, a comprehensive molecular laboratory as well as several mini and major oxygen plants across the district.
But this addition of infrastructure poses critical demands of manpower to operate them as well. A senior medical official of the district says, “Yes we did face a shortage of specialists (amid the second Covid wave) especially for running ICU services. We managed by training our existing staff, but in the long run additional specialists are required in government hospitals for effective delivery of health care services. The deputation of eight of our specialist doctors to Chandigarh would of course add an additional burden to the existing manpower.”
To counter the shortage of staff owing to the rise in beds and critical care units, CMO of Panchkula had even asked the PMO to present her with demands for additional ICU staff for anesthetists, medical officers trained for ICUs, staff nurses for ICUs or ICU technicians, et al, in its preparations for the third wave.
Those sanctioned to leave the Panchkula civil hospital include specialists in Anesthesia, ENT, Microbiology, Surgery, Pediatrics and Pathology.
All OT procedures, deliveries may stop at CHC Raipurrani
At least four doctors, including three specialists, also figure on the out deputation list from CHC Raipurrani of Panchkula, which singlehandedly caters to a population of more than 1.57 lakh people. SMO Dr Sanjeev Goyal, heading this health centre, states that with the deputation of these doctors, the operation theatre at the centre will have to be completely shut down. “At least three of the four are specialists, including a gynae, an anesthesia specialist, as well as a medicine specialist. The fourth doctor, though not a specialist, has handled the labs and biomedical waste of the centre. With them gone, I do not understand how will this centre operate. We would have to shut down the gynae ward and Covid facilities. I am really worried,” he says.
The three specialists handled crucial departments of the centre, which caters to the whole block.
“Anesthesia specialists are extremely important during Covid. We have just one anesthesia specialist who we need for all our OT procedures. He also managed the Covid crisis of oxygen and looked after critical patients. The gynae doctor we have is also the only one. She delivered newborns and was involved in family planning activities,” he says.
The CHC has a total of eight doctors, including the SMO. With its strength cut in half and a majority of its specialists gone, residents of the block would have to travel several kilometres to reach Panchkula Civil hospital for even basic medical treatments.
Private doctor may need to be hired at SDH Kalka
The sub-divisional hospital of Kalka area, which caters to the wide rural block of Kalka in Panchkula as well as patients from neighbouring Himachal villages, as it sits on the border of two states, is set to lose the only anesthetist it has.
“We have been working as a separate hospital itself. Our hospital caters to patients of Kalka, as well as those coming from Himachal. With our only anesthetist gone, we will be left in a lurch,” says SMO Dr Rupinder Singh, heading the Kalka sub-divisional hospital.
The hospital has in fact, written to the state several times for a second anesthetist. “We require two anesthetists at the hospital as we offer several crucial procedures and are a big medical facility here. We were shocked to know that instead of giving us another anesthetist, the only one we have is being taken away,” he added.
The hospital has already started to look at other options that can be explored. “With some additional budget, we will have to hire anesthetists from the private sector in such a case,” he said.
Ambala’s top orthopedic approved to be deputed
The approved orders also include at least four doctors currently posted in Ambala and who will be deputed to Chandigarh. The specialties of those doctors include ENT specialist, Ortho-surgeon as well as a radiologist.
As per Dr Sheel Pajni, senior vice president of Haryana Medical Civil Services, posted in the Ambala region, “The radiology doctor being sent out on deputation would mean the shutting down of one of our radiology machine unit, as we had two doctors and two machines. The hospital has also been eyeing at including DNB residents which too would be hit if we depute our already depleted manpower.”
Dr Ashwani Mudgil, MS Ortho, is on the list of deputation and is also said to be the “only joint replacement surgeon” in Ambala district as per Dr Pajni. “He is one of the best in Haryana. We should not be deputing such doctors to a city, which already has a robust healthcare system, including several medical colleges,” he adds.
While only those with at least five years of service in the state government are eligible for deputation, Dr Ashwani Mudgil (MS Ortho) as well as Dr Ravinder Kumar (MD Radiology) have less than 5 years of regular service but have been asked for by the Chandigarh administration stating “these doctors are urgently required in Health department UT Chandigarh as Dr Neeraj Gupta, orthopeditian has taken voluntary retirement and Dr Karam Singh, radiologist has also been repatriated to Punjab due to his retirement.”
22 doctors of Haryana already on deputation in UT
At least 22 doctors of Haryana in the meantime, already are on deputation in the UT at the moment. While as per rules of the Haryana government, no doctor can remain deputed out of the state for more than five years, several such cases exist in UT Chandigarh.
Dr Jaya Jaitely, had been deputed to the UT in 2006 and has the achievement of maximum deputation with more than 16 years under her hood. The doctor is closely followed by Dr Harleen K Tiwana, deputed in 2007, and Dr Meenakshi Khanna deputed in 2007.
No appeals for deputation have been entertained in the past several years by current health minister Anil Vij, who has cited a lack of doctors in the state to defer such applications.
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