The biggest trauma centre in Nepal, which has been flooded with patients since Saturday’s earthquake, has an Indian connection — Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Nepalese PM Sushil Koirala had together inaugurated it in November last year.
Now, the 200-bed National Trauma Centre at Bir hospital has become the focal point for thousands of those injured — and is struggling to treat them all.
Ganesh Gurung, vice-chancellor of the National Academy of Medical Sciences, which oversees the hospital, said, “Some doctors are too scared to report to duty and we haven’t heard from a few others since the earthquake. We are managing with the hands we have. The electricity has been irregular and we have been relying on back-up power systems. We have only got Rs 10 lakh from the government; otherwise we are on our own.”
Ram, 31, a resident doctor at the orthopaedic surgery department, said, “Doctors and nurses from the adjacent Bir hospital building have been helping, but they don’t even know their way around the trauma centre. Much of our work involves surgery, but we don’t have clean gloves or gowns. We are also running low on implants.”
Although patients are being shifted to Bir hospital’s main building, even that is low on supplies and equipment. “We don’t have sufficient blankets, ECGs and infusion pumps,” said Goma Niraula, director of nursing.
While inaugurating the trauma centre, Modi had called it a gift from India to Nepal. But half a year later, the multi-crore facility is yet to be completely built, and has been at the centre of allegations that money was not utilised properly. “It was funded on a turn-key basis, but it took 17 years to construct and another seven before it became operational,” said Gurung. “Last year, I had warned that it is incomplete and if it is thrown open, I will be beaten up by the public,” he added.
While thousands of patients have been discharged, 150 are still undergoing treatment and 107 have been declared dead. “We were not prepared and the quake caught us on the wrong foot,” said Dr Anjan S Karki, a general surgeon.
“We have all departments but they are still incomplete,” said Dr Subodh Adhikari, a surgeon. On the second floor of the trauma centre, there are 14 ICUs without any monitors or ventilators.