Hospitals fail to provide PPEs, doctors risk their lives to fight coronavirus
Protective gear will be arranged: Govt
The hospitals in Kashmir are facing shortage of Personal Protective Equipment, putting doctors and healthcare workers fighting coronavirus at risk.
Due to the shortage of protective gear, the authorities are compelling doctors to use raincoats and theatre aprons while treating COVID-19 patients.
“There are no PPEs and N-95 masks. Doctors deputed in the emergency are begging the hospital administration to get PPEs,” said a senior doctor at Srinagar’s SMHS Hospital.
The doctors posted at the SMHS emergency said all the suspect coronavirus cases who turn out positive at Chest Disease Hospital are first brought there.
“All doctors in surgical or medical emergency should have proper PPEs but we have to beg for hours before the administration for hours for it,” he said.
Working without protective gear in a hospital that receives coronavirus patients is an arduous task but they don’t turn their backs on the patients.
The medico, who wished not to be named, said there were also no protective gear or gowns in the intensive care units for the doctors.
Understanding the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak, on Wednesday some Non-Government Organisations gave some masks and PPEs to some doctors.
The rise in coronavirus cases in the Valley during the past week has exposed the Valley’s hobbled healthcare grappling with shortage of manpower and critical care facilities.
A senior doctor at Sub District Hospital Pulwama said the government was flooding hospitals and making these quarantine facilities which he said was against the protocol.
“The government is unnecessarily overburdening the hospitals by keeping asymptomatic patients, who could be managed at quarantine facilities, in them,” he said.
With only 43 COVID-19 cases, doctors opine that the government should constitute a team of medical experts who would be tasked to decide who to put in quarantine.
“The government should have made health experts the control room heads,” the medico said. “The problem is that the bureaucrats are deciding medical management,” he said.
The doctor said Kashmir's healthcare would collapse if coronavirus cases go up.
“Our poor healthcare has been exposed,” he said.
In many hospitals, in absence of PPEs, doctors are wearing raincoats.
A doctor, who works at Community Health Centre, Sumbal in Bandipora said they had no protective gear and were risking their lives.
“We are given surgical masks instead of N-95 masks, which makes us vulnerable," he said. "We now wear aprons meant for theatres, which are not advisable but we use them and wash them in the evenings."
Many doctor including surgeons and physicians have been tasked with non-medical work, hitting the patient care.
“Yesterday, a patient needed a minor surgical intervention but, in absence of a surgeon, he was not managed and was referred to Srinagar,” a doctor in Bandipora said.
Similarly, the paramedic staff of Chest Disease Hospital attending suspect cases in the quarantine ward are at risk due to lack of protective gear.
A paramedic at the hospital said that they were attending to patients at quarantine ward but they are given protective gear which only lasts for a few hours.
“I cater to two different wards but get only one protective gear for a day, which is putting other patients at risk,” she said.
The CD Hospital is already grappling with shortage of paramedic staff, and has become overburdened while handling coronavirus patients.
The employee at the hospital said the lives of the patients declared negative were being risked by putting them together with the suspect cases.
Amid coronavirus scare, President Society of Dental Surgeons (SDS) J&K, Dr Imtiyaz Banday said the healthcare staff across hospitals should be provided accommodation.
“Medical professionals are probable tickling bombs and a threat to their families,” he said
The SDS appealed the government to come up with some contingency plan for pick and drop of hospital employees during the lockdown.
President Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK), Dr Suhail Naik said the hospitals needed to be equipped with manpower to handle critical care.
“One doctor can’t treat one hundred patients," he said. "It is the responsibility of the government to make available sufficient manpower."
Two days ago, a doctor of Government Medical College Jammu that has been declared COVID-19 hospital, was infected with coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the Health and Medical Education (H&ME) department impressed upon all heads of hospitals and medical colleges to ensure safety of healthcare professionals dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Protective gear for healthcare professionals will be arranged by the heads of the institutions to protect the staff from cross infection,” read a communication issued by the Financial Commissioner, H&ME, Atal Dulloo.
“Similarly, the arrangement for the safety of doctors and staff members treating the COVID-19 positive patients shall be made in consultation with the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir and Jammu. The heads of departments will put their requisition to the concerned Divisional Commissioners and make such arrangements immediately,” it said.
Jammu Kashmir has reported 55 coronavirus positive cases including 43 from Kashmir.
The valley has also recorded two fatalities.