25 to 50% dip in patient flow at OPDs in Srinagar hospitals

The closure of the Srinagar-Jammu national highway for civilian traffic for two days a week has badly impacted the movement of patients intending to visit tertiary-care hospitals across Srinagar, with the out-patient department (OPD) load reducing drastically than the average in several health facilities in the summer capital, officials said Wednesday.

At GB Pant children’s hospital here, the number of OPD registrations recorded Wednesday was 600 as against 1000 on a ‘normal’ day there, an official said.

On Sunday, which marked the first day of the national highway ban, the patient flow at the OPD was 250 as against 900 on a ‘normal’ Sunday, he said.

The hospital has been running Sunday OPDs to cater to the pediatric health needs of Kashmir. GB Pant is the lone children’s hospital in the Valley.

“Even patients who were able to reach the hospital had faced tremendous hardships and many of them had travelled miles on foot with their sick children,” a doctor at GB Pant hospital said Wednesday.

The state government on April 3 ordered closure of the Srinagar-Jammu national highway for all types of civilian traffic for two days a week (Sunday and Wednesday) until May 31 to facilitate movement of security forces’ convoys.

At the general specialty SMHS hospital, the patient load has reduced by 25 percent following the national highway ban, an official at the hospital said, wishing not to be named.

A doctor at the hospital said that many patients, who had been lined up for surgeries, did not turn up in time.

“We are expecting them to show up in the evening and have kept a provision to admit them,” he said.

At the Sher-e-Kashmir institute of medical sciences (SKIMS), the follow-up cases saw a huge decline, though there was ‘little impact’ of the national highway ban on the OPD.

At other hospitals of Srinagar, the number of patients visiting the OPDs Wednesday was “way below average”, a health official said.

Several medical superintendents, working in peripheral hospitals in Kashmir, said they ensured that patients in need of a referral are provided an ambulance.

“We clubbed many referral patients to reduce inconvenience due to the highway ban,” a medical superintendent in a southern Kashmir hospital said.