Govt seeks explanation for serpentine queues at SMHS Hospital

Steps already taken to streamline patient load: MS SMHS
File photo of Srinagar's tertiary care hospital, SMHS.
File photo of Srinagar's tertiary care hospital, SMHS.Mubashir Khan/ GK

Srinagar, Apr 24: The Health and Medical Education (H&ME) Department of J&K Government has issued a show cause notice to Medical Superintendent SMHS Hospital for the long queues at the OPD ticket counters at the Hospital.

Official communication from H&ME Department titled show cause notice and numbered H&ME-GRV0OSD/57/2022 (e-office) addressed to Medical Superintendent SMHS Hospital has asked the officer to explain why there was unmanaged crowd at the hospital’s OPD counters. “It has come to the administrative department with photographic evidence that on 28 March at 12 noon, there were serpentine queues of patients present at two OPD counters of SMHS Hospital” reads the communication. It further reads that some patients were ‘reportedly waiting for more than four hours’ and bearing the weather vagaries.

The department has sought explanation from the Medical Superintendent and said that the scene ‘speaks volumes about the administrative mismanagement on your behalf at managing the footfall at the GMC Srinagar’. The show cause notice has alleged that there is ‘dereliction of duty’ on part of Medical Superintendent SMHS Hospital and asked him to explain within five days of the issue of the notice, that is 19 April.

When Greater Kashmir contacted Medical Superintendent of the Hospital, Dr Kanwaljeet Singh, he said the show cause notice did not take ‘holistic facts’ into consideration. He said in the recent past, the OPD ticket counters have been increased from one to four and the waiting area has been covered with a roof to provide respite from heat, rain and snow. He said the OPD tickets have been computerized and in 10 minutes, at least 50 people are provided the tickets. “However, it is a fact that we are the largest and the most frequented hospital in entire Kashmir and we cater to a huge number of patients every day,” he said. He said steps had already been taken to reduce the waiting time for OPD tickets. “Our OPD counters operate from 9 am to 2 pm and we issue an average of 1500 tickets every day,” he said.

Dr Singh said a separate counter for pregnant women, elderly and people with any kind of impairment had also been started. “The load is an issue and we have taken steps, increased counters, made them computerised and also raised a shade over the waiting area,” he said.

The chaos at tertiary care hospitals in Kashmir has been highlighted by Greater Kashmir in many of its stories. “Patient load has often led to stretching of facilities in these hospitals and continues to do so in absence of strengthening of a decentralized system of healthcare,” a senior healthcare official said.

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