Cancer patients suffer at SMHS Hospital

Cancer patients suffer at SMHS Hospital

According to insiders the medical oncology has a single employee who is overburdened with administering chemotherapy to patients.

The Medical Oncology ward of Sri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital is facing acute shortage of space and staff even as the number of cancer patients seeking chemotherapy is increasing.

Last year the hospital administration had divided the oncology department into two divisions – Radiation Oncology and Medical Oncology. Although the former has a separate building, the latter lags behind in every manner.

According to insiders the medical oncology has a single employee who is overburdened with administering chemotherapy to patients.

“Every day around five patients get chemotherapy and only a single paramedic is entrusted with this job,” said an insider. “There is no backup and emergency service in place in case the chemotherapy, which is different from regular medicines, induces complications in a patient.”

The ward has just three doctors and only one of them is a trained medical oncologist. At times round the clock presence of doctors in the ward becomes impossible. Currently the ward has around 100 patients enlisted for chemotherapy and the number is increasing with every passing month.

The ward has just three beds, which are cramped alongside other patients though barricaded by a partition. “There are no isolation wards and there is no psychological support or recreation activity for them. These patients are depressed and doctors have to employ alternative methods too to brighten their chances of survival,” said an official.

Patients too complain of lack of facilities at the hospital. “The central heating system in this particular ward is defunct. We have to bring blankets and Kangris to the ward,” said Malik Yasin of Baramulla while accompanying his father who is suffering from stomach cancer. “There are no facilities for round the clock tests. Yesterday doctor advised us immediate CT Scan, but the concerned technician denied the test asking us to come two days later. He even tore the recommendation letter from a senior resident doctor.”

The administration admits problems at the ward but says everything will be alright from March onwards. “Actually the floods created most of the problems for us. We are constructing specialized wards for medical oncology at Shireen Bagh whose construction got delayed due to floods, now we expect the building to be complete in March and then hopefully we will shift there,” said Dr Muhammed Altaf Hakim, senior consultant, Medical Oncology SMHS. “We have only para-medics but we are working on new recruitments too. In the coming months the cancer patients would get treatment of highest quality.”