MEDICAL COLLEGE JAMMU AND POOR PATIENTS

ALTAF HUSSAIN JANJUA

MEDICAL COLLEGE JAMMU AND POOR PATIENTS

The Government is claiming that special attention is being paid to the health Sector, and all possible steps are being taken to provide better health services and facilities to the poor and weaker sections of the society. A lot is written, said and shown. The medical, paramedical staff and other staff serving in this department also receive significant benefits from state Exchequer. Since the global epidemic Corona virus has affected India as well as the rest of the world, doctors have been offered more financial incentives, Life Insurance and security.

They have also been given legal protection so that they can perform their duties in a conducive atmosphere without any hindrance. In return, those serving this dignified and most respected profession are also expected to perform their duties with dedication, honesty, sincerity, impartially and diligently but those practically doing so are small in numbers and even those who are sincere in their duty, they are so caught in the clutches of greed, lust, corrupt system that their importance is like salt in flour.

GMCH Jammu is the primer Health institution in Whole Jammu Province and has significant importance. Although medical colleges have been set up in Doda, Rajouri, Udhampur and Kathua but  they do not yet have the required infrastructure and staff and are in the early stages of development. All critical patients and injured persons usually from whole province referred to GMCH Jammu where availability of required staff, structure and machinery is better but unfortunately this Primer Health institution have not in good books of common masses and there is so much fear in the minds of the people regarding this hospital and considered it as ‘Just Practical Laboratory for Medical Students and Doctors’, whenever a patient from Pir Panchal, Chenab region or any other area of the province being referred to this  hospital their family members give up hope of the patient’s full recovery and forgive him, because they have little hope to see again. Personally I had a very bitter experience of the functioning, exploitation and harassment at Emergency ward, Slip Counter, Laboratory, Operation Theatre, OPD, in patient ward, Blood Bank and Private Chemist shop outside the hospital. During the last ten years on many occasions I had spent weeks and days here with many patients as an attendant.

Recently I had spent a week here with a patient, what I witnessed, felt and observed I had to go through, it was unfortunate. The attitude and behavior of the security personnel at the gate, Sweeper, nursing staff, PG students, registrar, the doctors and even the hospital administration is such a type that patients and attendants treated here as they are accused persons. It seems that they have been specially trained to rudely behave with patients. Be it the Emergency Ward or Admission Ward (Patient Ward), everywhere PG students and students pursuing a Diploma or Degree in Nursing / FMHW from various private colleges are seen in large numbers and their only purpose is to do experiments on patients and learn. 

Emergency has been handed over to PG students, registrars and junior doctors, No senior doctor is available here due to which Patients brought in critical condition which need immediate treatment have to suffer a lot. God forbid when a patient comes here in critical condition instead of giving him/her immediate treatment has been asked to firstly undergo a detailed procedure, i.e. get a slip from the counter after registration, Signature from CMO, then go to another ward and wait for hours.

 Attendants move table to table, ward to ward and beg to see their patient lying on a stretcher in the emergency wards groaning in pain, the heart is screaming with horrible screams, but there is no doctor available to check it immediately. Then when it is turn to examine the patient, a long list of tests handed over to the attendant who runs to get the tube starts from one laboratory to another and it takes hours, during which the patient’s condition becomes more critical but who cares? For every test, patients have to go for obtaining empty testing tubes which is a huge harassment and exercise.

After tests if required, the patient is admitted in the concerned section, and then a new round of mental and physical distress begins. IN patient wards are like laboratories where students in groups roaming round the clock. If you are influential, have a recommendation by or acquainted with a senior doctor or officer in the hospital, then you will get a little relief, rest a common man has to go through the most severe ordeal. The doctor takes barely a round in twenty-four hours and that too occasionally, mostly a Registrar along with a whole caravan of PG students come on round, briefed by the students and then leave. 

For the remaining 24 hours, the patient has to be at the mercy of NPG students and nursing staff. One PG student walks away, another arrives, searches the file, asks dozens of questions to the patient and attendants and leaves after making notes on their copy, when they are asked about the patient’s health and treatment and their answer is always common “Senior Doctor will come and can say something”. Daily Dozens of syringes blood taken in the name of diagnosing the patient For which it is a great inconvenience for the attendant to bring the tube from different laboratories and then leave it there. The condition of the attendant becomes even worse than that of the patient. Test samples are also taken in laboratories for a specified period of time. In addition, if you are in urgency to undergo a test, you have to go to private laboratories and that too of PG students’ choice. Owners of medical / chemist and surgical equipment shops situated around Bakhshi Nagar Hospital have been able to control everyone from security personnel at the gate to Top level in exchange for financial benefits, greed for gifts  and other business strategy so that they could get good income on purchase of their medicines and other surgical items. Patients in GMCH Jammu are a big Source of income for Chemists who give no chance to suck maximum blood of poor patients in the name of treatment by selling them maximum but unnecessary Tests, Medicine, Injections with the help of staff. PG students and registered doctors by luring them for expensive gifts and financial benefits. A medical shop has been set up inside the hospital where some discounts were available, but it is closed in view of epidemic and shopkeepers outside taking maximum benefit of patients helplessness during COVID19 lockdown.

In addition, the ‘drug dealer mafia’ has left its employees and agents in the hospital  premises like informants, who can be seen everywhere inside and outside the wards, Blood banks, laboratories, Operation theatres, OPDs, Emergencies etc. Whenever they find any patient or attendant in urgency, these agents immediately approach him and tell him the address of the shop / laboratory outside, showing such gentleness, humility that they have great sympathy . In this situation of compulsion, innocent people, who instead of waiting for hours in hospital, think it is better to go outside for tests etc. by paying money.

Bakhshi Nagar Hospital has a big ‘Blood Bank’ where dozens of units of blood are donated daily and blood of all groups is available. The main purpose of the blood bank is to facilitate the exchange of blood. Blood is often needed during the operation or other urgency for which sometimes the group has to be changed, but even here the influence, acquaintance, recommendation and money are the talk of the town. Exchange of Blood for a poor person is an extraordinary and unusual thing because the staff is so ruthless and heartless due to lust and greed that if a patient’s life is being lost, blood is needed, if he is poor, he will not get it. If a person has donated blood, it can be given at any time in case of personal need or for the patient for whom it has been given, but here it is equivalent to ‘night is gone’. If you ask for blood, you will get an Answer Big “NO”. Forgive me, but it is a harsh reality that  blood donation has also come under the shadow of ‘business mafia’. Some patients need an immediate ventilator when there is an accident or more difficulty in breathing. Ventilators are also available in Bakshi Nagar Hospital but they are not available for the poor. There are always some ventilators reserved (reserved) and they are being given only to influential people, high officials, and politicians. This machinery was made available with the money of the people, but unfortunately it is available only for Rich at the cost of the poor.

There are dozens of tests for which there is no facility in Medical College Jammu laboratory, in such cases tests have to be done by private laboratories, which cost thousands of rupees. One of the most expensive tests is the MRI test, which is available within the GMC, for which three digital machines are installed in Bakhshi Nagar, where if you work 24 hours a day, you can easily do a quick test. The cost of MRI is Rs. 2500 / – while under BPL and Ayushman Bharat Scheme, this facility is free for Golden Card holders. The aim is to benefit the poor, but most of the poor are deprived of this facility because they do not get an appointment less than two months for the test. On recommendation of the relatives of the rich, officers, doctors and nursing staff, MRI tests are done in a matter of hours on the same day but the common poor have to wait for months. The cost of MRI test in private clinics ranges from Rs 5,000 to Rs 9,000 which is very difficult for Poor. 

I was waiting outside the laboratory with patient for MRI test, when two Young boys from remote village of Reasi district comes there, who were very upset and requested that their father is suffering from stroke, doctor has advised for urgent MRI test so that volume of damage caused by Stroke could be examined, there is an emergency but these Poor guys despite humble submissions get one month date. 

In the meantime, a senior police officer came there to get his wife’s MRI Test. He had just arrived when the receptionist got a phone call from someone who answered “yes. Yes, of course, A patient has come in, they have to wait just a few minutes, ok Right thanks…. “Then he dropped the call and said to the Police officer “ok Wait sir for a while, ultimately his test is done within half an hour. Officers, Influential persons who could easily done tests in Private Laboratory given preference whereas Poor and helpless patients are least priority, it happens daily. 

Recovery ward near Operation Theatre is facing direct sunlight from its tin roof and there are around 10 ACs in it but all of them are non-functional. The rounds of senior doctors in this ward are very rare as I watch here only rounds of students or junior doctors, who are in their initial stage of career and experimenting with human lives. Cleanliness and hygiene is a distant dream here. Here every employee from bottom to top has loads and tonnes of attitude in his mind. Manners, ethics and being civilized like qualities are missing here totally, in all officials .For every micro or macro need, patients have to visit markets and buy that. If by accident, we ask something pertaining to our patient, medicine or treatment to concerned doctor or staff, they start scolding us.

Dozens of medicines and injections are available free of cost from the hospital but the patient is asked to bring everything from outside. If there is any acquaintance or you get mercy might you get the same from nursing staff.  If anybody dares to object and is questioned on non- availability of injections no injection is given nursing staff burst their anger on patients and treat ruthlessly while administering glucose drips or injections.

 The poor person, who came to this hospital as a last resort, remains silent and helpless. After the operation, most of the equipment for dressing has to be brought from outside, although inside the dressing room, bandages, medicine and other necessary items are available.

For providing food to the patient in the hospital, cores of rupees come out of the treasury but here it is also being misused and looted. Food is cooked in such a way that any patient thinks it is better to be hungry than to eat it. There is no set time for providing breakfast, lunch and dinner; Staff formally walks around the wards quickly and then leaves.

The food vendors try their level best that least patients approach them for Food, so they can save maximum food and then sell those Poor attendants on some discount who can’t afford more expensive food from the canteen. Summer season in Jammu in peaks and it is very hot and humid. The wards of Bakshi Nagar Hospital do not have any sufficient arrangement for relief from the high temperature. Most patients have to bring their own fans.Above mentioned pathetic conditions and work culture in GMCH Jammu, does not mean that there are no good and honest doctors, nursing staff and Sweepers. It was an unfortunate aspect which needs reforms; there are also a good number of such Doctors, Paramedics and laboratory technicians who are doing full justice to their duties. Their attitude towards their patients and attendants is also polite and compassionate and only such doctors and other staff are the hope of the poor despite the above described situation and the hospital system is running because of such dedicated staff. You will definitely find such staff everywhere in every department and ward of the hospital whose conduct, and professionalism make you feel proud and pray for them will come from the bottom of your heart  and also give you hope that you are safe hands and Allah will make them your source of healing.

There are good and bad people in every sector of life. Materialism has affected every sphere of life but in the sacred and delicate profession of Doctors there should be no room for such carelessness, greed, lust as it is a matter of one’s life and death.At least people in the health sector should not look at it only from the commercial point of view and must consider it as service to humanity. Education and Health are two important sections which are the backbone of any country and nation’s development and progress; At least we should not compromise with these two departments’ .Alas! Sorry to say That Governments, public representatives and the political leadership have also been responsible for creating such a system. The people whom we entrusted with the task of improving such institutions, they did not spare any effort to improve the system and give priority to their own vested interests. We could not expect any Good result when the elected representatives take advantage of the decision-making and planning position for personal interests and give priority to their family and relatives over public interest. Due to this those who work hard with dedication, sincerity, and honesty are being discouraged by a corrupt mind and material system.For improvement in this system we can only pray to Allah, because there is no other hope from this business centric system. Always pray to Allah that you and your loved ones will never have to go through this ordeal in hospital. It is meaningless to expect anything from the government side, only pray to Allah.

 

Note: Author is Advocate and Journalist