'Referrals allowable to tertiary hospitals only in dire emergency'

File photo of Srinagar's tertiary care hospital, SMHS. [Mubashir Khan/ GK]

As the tertiary care hospitals in Kashmir are running out of space to accommodate Covid19 patients, the divisional administration has directed that such patients can be referred to tertiary hospitals only in case of dire emergency.

Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, P K Pole has ordered that patients can be referred to tertiary care hospitals only in case of dire emergency that too after prior consent of the concerned nodal officer.

“Pursuant to the instructions/orders issued as regards to stop referral of patients from District Covid care facilities to the Tertiary care hospitals of the Valley in order to avoid overwhelming of the Health care facilities in these tertiary care hospitals, it has been decided that the patients can be referred to the tertiary care hospitals only in case of dire emergency after seeking prior consent of the Nodal officer of the concerned tertiary care hospital. However Chief Medical Officers of District Health facilities shall ensure that no unnecessary referrals are made from districts to the Tertiary care hospitals,” reads a copy of order issued by Divisional Commissioner Kashmir. As per health department officials, the unnecessary referral of Covid patients from district hospitals to tertiary care hospitals is putting additional burden on them.

Though the bed capacity in these hospitals has been increased, the rising number of infection cases has however increased the number of patient admission in the tertiary hospitals.

As on May 1, SMHS with 203 Covid dedicated beds had 181 of these beds occupied, in SKIMS 300 beds have been earmarked for Covid patients, 282 patients are undergoing treatment. Similarly Chest Diseases hospital has 94 beds, 91 patients are admitted, JLNM has 150 designated Covid beds, 102 patients are undergoing treatment.

Earlier, the  Directorate of Health Services  Kashmir (DHSK) has cautioned respective Chief Medical Officers and Medical Superintendents to ensure that no unnecessary referrals are made from districts to SKIMS Soura or GMC Srinagar, citing that ‘the two tertiary care hospitals are already overburden with the load of COVID patients.’ An order issued by DHSK states: “It is also imperative that in case any referral is needed for the interest of patient care, the Chief Medical Officer of the district should be informed in advance so that he/she can liaison with hospitals in Srinagar.”

The Chief Medical Officers have been directed to ensure that no doctors and paramedics leave their respective stations and remain available for patients in this hour of crisis. “Non compliance shall be viewed seriously and action under rules initiated”, it states.

Besides Chief Medical Officers/Block Medical Officers/Medical Superintendents will ensure monitoring of health status on daily basis of all such Covid-19 positive patients, who have been put under home isolation, as per the past practice & standing SOPs/guidelines,” the order says.

“The health status should be monitored by the field staff/surveillance teams through personal visits along with a dedicated Call Centre/Control Room to follow up the patients on a daily basis.”