Pediatric Hospital, after 16 years of “makeshift”

Pediatric Hospital, after 16 years of “makeshift”
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With the Union Minister for Home Affairs, Amit Shah cutting the virtual ribbon of the 500 bedded Pediatric Hospital at Bemina on Monday, the wait finally has been announced to be over. Although civil and mechanical work at the site has progressed much yet incomplete, the project can be seen nearing completion. On Tuesday, OutPatient Services were also started at the new hospital. Kashmir’s 30 lakh children may now have a decent hospital, if the focus is kept on.

J&K Government is positive that the hospital will be functional by the end of this year, providing much anticipated expansion to Pediatric Healthcare Services in Kashmir. Additional Chief Secretary J&K Government (Health and Medical Education), Vivek Bhardwaj said the work on the new Pediatric Hospital was progressing fast and as per the anticipated plan. He said he took stock of the site and the upcoming facilities upon assuming charge in J&K and was assured that the centrally sponsored project would be handed over to the Health and Medical Education Department by the end of this year. “Two floors are complete and we are in the phase of fittings and equipment fixing,” he said. Bhardwaj said he was hopeful that Children Hospital will run from the new building by December. “It is a State-of-art project with a wide range of super and sub-specialties, the latest diagnostic and treatment facilities, and will be one of its kind in entire north India,” he added.

Earlier this year, J&K Government sanctioned creation of 343 posts for the new hospital. The posts have been referred to J&K Public service Commission. The vacancies were created to support the existing staff of Pediatrics, doctors, nurses, paramedics, technicians etc to run a 500 bedded hospital. The strength that exists had been hired for a 150 bedded hospital. Many experts feel that the Government has invested much in the infrastructure of the new facility but the focus also needs to be on equipping it with human resource. “Facilities will otherwise go waste as is happening in many hospitals across J&K,” said a senior pediatrician. The hospital is expected to have pediatric surgery, pediatric ophthalmology, pediatric nephrology, pediatric radiology and pediatric psychiatry.

The new building that is coming up at a cost of approximately Rs 115 crore will house the Pediatric Hospital currently operational at GB Pant Hospital, an arrangement that was announced as “temporary” in 2005. The Pediatric Hospital Building at Hazuri Bagh was vacated then to pave way for expansion of Lal Ded Hospital. The shortage of space at GB Pant Hospital and the resultant compromise in delivery of healthcare for newborns and children has been highlighted by this newspaper for years. In 2019, State Administrative Council sanctioned the merging of the under-construction 200-bedded Maternity Hospital with the under-construction 300-bedded Children Hospital. The Hospital has missed several deadlines since the work commenced on it in 2015.

The facility will function as an associated hospital of Government Medical College Srinagar. Prof Muzaffar Jan, Head Department of Pediatrics at GMC Srinagar said his department and the GMC administration was taking regular stock of the progress of work. He said the OPD block at the building was ready for use but the department was contemplating to start all the patient services together. “Starting OPDs first would not serve much of a purpose for us as we would need patient’s to visit GB Pant Hospital for even an X Ray at this point,” he said. He said till the support services such as laboratories, diagnostics, emergencies and admissions are not available, starting only out-patient care would be “ill-conceived”. “We are expecting to start full-fledged Pediatric Hospital in December at the new location,” he said.

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