The death of a 42-year-old woman from Ludhiana due to coronavirus has put into focus the preparedness of the state health infrastructure to deal with the unfolding crisis.
The woman, who stayed just 1.2 km from the Civil Hospital and had also approached its OPD after developing fever and cough symptoms around March 24, was treated like a regular patient. On March 30, she came to the civil hospital again after her symptoms worsened with need for respiratory support. But there was no ventilator in the isolation ward. Further, the five ventilators available in the mother and child care section were non-operational due to lack of trained professionals to run them.
Dr Ravi Datta, Senior Medical Officer, Civil Hospital, Ludhiana, said, “Our staff has been sent for training in CMCH, they will start using them (ventilators) once training is complete.”
When the woman was referred to Rajindra Medical College and Hospital in Patiala, there was no ambulance with the Ludhiana hospital to take her there. The family hired an ambulance for Rs 4000 to reach the Patiala hospital.
After the 42-year-old’s death, Fatehgarh Sahib MP Dr Amar Singh has given Rs 73 lakh to civil surgeons of Ludhiana and Sri Fatehgarh Sahib to purchase ventilators, ambulance and other necessary equipment.
Out of this Rs 73 lakh, Rs 34.98 lakh have been given to Ludhiana Civil Surgeon. In addition to this, Ludhiana MP Ravneet Bittu has asked the DCs to use the MPLAD fund in COVID-19 management.
Sources revealed that even nursing staff at government hospitals is short of masks and protective gear. Last week, nurses had refused to go inside Ludhaina Civil Hospital’s isolation ward without protective gear, which was provided to them later.
Even Civil Hospital, Ferozepur, had no ventilator which in turn forced doctors to refer a suspected COVID-19 patient to Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital Monday, where he died later. However, the patient turned out to be coronavirus negative Tuesday.
Sources revealed that private hospitals in the state were now regularly referring suspected patients to civil hospitals which are not well equipped to deal with situation. Government has so far not made any arrangement with private hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients. Two patients, who are taking treatment in DMCH and CMCH in Ludhiana, are taking it in their private capacity.
Dr Jagjit Singh, Chief Advisor of PCMS Specialist Doctors Association, said, “According to national health programme, 2000, Punjab government should spend 15 per cent of the state GDP on health, while Centre should contribute between 3-5 per cent. But sad enough, Punjab spends between 3-5 per cent, while Centre contributes 1 per cent of the GDP. In the absence of adequate funds, secondary and tertiary care of the government hospitals lags behind. This gap is not an overnight development.”
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