Believe it or not: Kashmir's super-specialty hospital with 5 surgical depts has no surgical ICU!

S Twelve years after it was conceived, the much hyped Super Specialty Hospital (SSH) of Kashmir has no surgical intensive care unit (SICU) of its own. The five advanced surgical departments of the institute latch on the space-constrained ICU of the nearby SMHS Hospital for saving patient lives.

An official at Government Medical College Srinagar said that a 13-bedded SICU was set up at the SSH two years ago, with an expenditure of crores. However, with no staff allocated to run the Unit, it has been locked up and is unusable for providing life support to patients undergoing surgeries at the hospital. “The ICU has 13 ventilators and state-of-the-art equipment but unfortunately all of this is gathering dust here,” he said.

The primary reason for the delay in making the ICU functional, the official said, was that the staff that had been recruited for SSH Hospital have been posted at other hospitals of GMC Srinagar. In addition, the official said, the department of anesthesia of GMC Srinagar had expressed its inability to allocate doctors for the SICU of the hospital citing “gross staff crunch” as reason.

The hospital was started “partially” in 2016 when three departments were shifted from SMHS Hospital to the new premises. In the course of past two years, five surgical departments, out of the total eight, were also shifted to the hospital. However, a senior doctor working at SSH said that these advanced surgical departments have not completely moved their base to the hyped hospital due to unreliability of the available facilities there. “Take for example neurosurgery department. They continue to run from SMHS Hospital and have a satellite unit at SSH,” the doctor said, adding that it was primarily the lack of life support system that was a bottleneck.

“All surgical departments,” the doctor said, “do only very safe and less complicated cases at SSH while the complicated cases are still done at SMHS Hospital.” He further said that the mandate of SSH was to carry out advanced surgeries. “Which surgeon would take the risk of a complicated surgery like that of brain, heart or cancer when he knows that there is no backup system to sustain the patient’s life,” he said.

The lack of SICU at SSH, the doctor said, had put the entire load of these additional advanced surgical departments on SMHS Hospital’s SICU which is marred by constraints of space. “SMHS Hospital is an 850-bedded hospital and there are only eight ventilators for this huge hospital that cater to the load from entire Kashmir,” the doctor said.

In-charge medical superintendent SSH, Dr Shabir Ahmed, acknowledged that the lack of SICU was an impediment to making the hospital fully functional. “We have requested GMC to make arrangements for making the SICU functional many times,” he said. He further said that technicians and nurses could be “managed” but it was primarily the dearth of resident staff in anesthesia department that had become a bottleneck.