Shortage of ambulances takes toll on patients

In the corridor outside Emergency Ward of Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Science (SKIMS) Asifa Jan was begging for help as she doesn’t have money to pay for transport.
Shortage of ambulances takes toll on patients
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In the corridor outside Emergency Ward of Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Science (SKIMS) Asifa Jan was begging for help as she doesn't have money to pay for transport. The hospital is not providing her ambulance to ferry her ill husband to curfew-bound South Kashmir. 

Jan is not the lone attendant who was waiting for help. There are dozens of patients who had been operated and discharged by the medicos but lack of ambulances amid absence of public transport is stopping them from returning to their respective homes.

"My husband was operated last week and today he was discharged in the early morning, but till evening neither the hospital has provided me ambulance nor any private transporter is willing to take us back home to Kulgam in South Kashmir," she said adding that there is chances of her husband developing infection if he remains in corridor for a long time. But despite her efforts, there was no help.

Jan was flanked by other attendants who are agitated over the failure of SKIMS management to provide them transport facilities.

The situation in Kashmir is volatile following 38 killings by security forces, with government putting curbs to restricting vehicular movement in the Valley. 

"There is volatile situation outside the hospital and all roads are blocked by the forces. Had it been a normal situation we would not have asked for transport from SKIMS but today we cannot take risk to ferry patients on our own as forces are damaging all the vehicles plying on road," said Muhammad Maqbool whose mother was discharged after operation but was waiting for transport.

As time passes, more patients are discharged who assemble in the corridor of the hospital, but nobody is willing them to take them home due to non-availability of ambulances and transport facilities.

Medicos at SKIMS said that prevalent situation has taken toll on the health care and transport of patients to and from the hospitals. 

"It is not safe for patients who have suffered injuries in police action to go home after being discharged on their own as the situation is volatile," they said adding that even hospital vehicles are being damaged by the security forces which is causing problems for them. 

"Besides there is other problem faced by those injured. They fear that they will be arrested enroute by forces, so they wait for ambulances to take them back," they added. 

According to the J&K Health Department and government hospitals, at least 70 ambulances have been damaged by security forces since Friday evening.

"Divisional Commissioner Kashmir has issued directions to all the hospitals to provide ambulances for ferrying patients to and from hospitals," said Medical Superintendent, SKIMS, Dr Farooq Ahmad Jan, while adding that they are sharing ambulances with district hospitals. 

"If there is referral from district, we use that ambulance to ferry patients from medical institute to that district from where the vehicle comes," he said adding that currently 10 ambulances are operating from the SKIMS and also transport facilities are provided by the hospital to patients.

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