WHEN IT comes to healthcare, Chandigarh, the planned city of the country, has been reeling under immense pressure. For, the city doesn’t offer health facilities only to its own citizens or those on the periphery but also caters to crowd from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. The pressure, as a result, takes a toll on the health facilities.
With Lok Sabha elections here, health care has to be a priority for the new Member of Parliament, residents feel.
The highest patient rush is witnessed at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research followed by Government Multi Specialty Hospital (GMSH), Sector 16 and Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32. There are around 30 dispensaries in urban areas and around eight in rural areas. This is other than primary health centres, alternative medical centres, sub-centres still most of the burden is taken by PGI.
Unnecessary referrals and lack of proper medical facilities at the primary and secondary level are the key reasons for the rush.
Vinod Vashisht, convener, CFORWO (City Forum of Residents Welfare Organisations), said that improving medical facilities at primary and secondary level is the need of the hour.
“Though there are two Chandigarh Administration-run hospitals as well as one in Sector 16 GMSH and other in Sector 32 GMCH more than last twenty five years, still, these hospitals have not succeeded in taking load of the PGIMER due to absence of super specialty medical care under one roof. There is a general mindset and trust of the patients is always reposed in PGI and it becomes duty of the referring doctor to properly counsel the patients before referring. Need of the hour is to improve medical facilities of administration-run hospital to next level of super-specialty and stop unnecessary referrals from the adjoining states. Only those cases should come to Chandigarh, which are critical,” he said.
PGI Director Dr Jagat Ram said, “Yes, I completely agree that unnecessary referrals are one of the key reasons for the rush at PGI. I feel the neighhbouring states should strengthen the healthcare at the primary and secondary level because we receive patients from the neighbouring states for primary healthcare as well.”
The health facilities had drawn the attention of the Punjab and Haryana High Court as well.
In December 2017, a single bench of the High Court extended the scope of the writ petition of a private citizen while asking all Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh regarding the availability of health facilities for poor and needy patients. Soon, the bench started monitoring of the health infrastructure in Chandigarh and asserted that the burden of patient load at PGIMER needs to be reduced by upgradation of facilities at other hospitals. In pursuance to the court orders, the GMSH-16 has almost operationalised its ICU. As per the timeline given before the court, a 80-bedded hospital at Maloya is to be completed by December 2020, the 100-bedded Sector 48 hospital is ready and the the 193-bedded Trauma and Emergency Block at GMCH-32 is also expected to be completed this year.
Earlier this month, a division bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had ordered initiation of a separate Public Interest Litigation regarding the issue of heavy rush of patients at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGI) and other connected matters of public interest related to the institute.
PGI Chandigarh taking the pressure — What the figures at PGI say PGI alone on an average daily gets around 9500 patients in the OPDs.
In 1963 and 1964, during the inception of PGI, the OPD numbers recorded were 1,25,163 and 1,72,606. However, the same numbers have risen twenty eight times now.
In 2018, the total patient record in the OPDs was 28,69150 which was 26,84,508 in 2017. The indoor admissions which were only 2069 in totality in the year 1963 are a daily attendance now. On an average, the inpatient attendance at the PGI has been 1874. As per details, the highest number of OPD patients at the PGIMER came from Punjab. Not only Punjab, the institute has been getting patients from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir and various other areas.
In 2018, as many as 10,87,420 patients were from Punjab. The number was 8,42,979 in 2017.
From Chandigarh, there were only 5,46,468 OPD patients while from Haryana, the number pegged at 5,41,764.
Next in line was Himachal with PGI recording 3,59,273 patients from here and people from far flung places in UP were also in attendance at the institute. From UP, there were 1,33,554 patients while from UK, there were 34,570 people. Last year, there were 74,131 patients from Jammu and Kashmir and 91,970 were from other areas.
Other areas here include far flung areas which include those from Rajasthan, Manipal, West Bengal, Bihar and even Nepal and Bangladesh.
Project of Sarangpur gets nod, ahead of polls
On February 20, the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved a proposal to transfer 50.76 acres of land at Sarangpur Chandigarh to Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER).
According to the PGIMER, the land is meant for a project that will mostly benefit the Out-patient Department. Cancer management research and Palliative care centres will come up under one roof, besides a learning resource centre (LRC) and multi-level parking.
It was stated that this Sarangpur project will give breathing space to the institute. It was stated that the setting up of a new OPD, shifting of trauma centre, cancer care and LRC, will decrease the waiting time for surgeries for the common man. Emergency services will be available in a highly efficient manner and infrastructural medical facilities will improve considerably.
100 bedded hospital at Sector 48 was inaugurated without being functional
In a hurry because of the model code of conduct to come into force ahead of Lok Sabha polls, a 100-bedded hospital in Sector 48 was inaugurated. But the hospital has not been made functional. Constructed at a cost of Rs 28 crore, it was inaugurated with great fanfare. Officials said the four-storey structure – equipped with OPD, labs, doctors’ room, chemist and paramedical facilities – was spread over 1.73 acres and would cater to the medical needs of the southern part of the city .
There were talks that the hospital would be made functional soon, but till date nothing has happened. Sources said that the authorities at GMCH had desired to take over the hospital. The building at the moment lies deserted.