Srinagar: Amidst sub-zero night temperature and day temperature barely going into double digits, hospitals in Kashmir are struggling to keep the heating systems on for extended hours. Limited funds for fuel are the reason they cite.
The heating hours in Kashmir’s major hospitals do not go beyond 12 hours a day even when the temperatures fall beyond freezing point, much to the distress of admitted patients.
At SMHS Hospital, the Super Specialty Healthcare facility, Lal Ded Hospital, Bone and Joint Hospital and others, the days mostly go without any source of warmth while the nights are partially warmed up with the broiler systems.
The cold and uncomfortable OPDs and other hospital areas in the coldest part of the year have seen a perpetual shortfall in facilities and have not been addressed over the years.
At Chest Diseases Hospital, the Medical Superintendent Dr Saleem Tak said, the heating system runs 13 hours in 24 hours. “It is six hours in the morning and seven hours in the evening in the month of November,” he said. Dr Tak said that the heating hours will be increased in December. He claimed that the hospital remains warm during day time due to the warmer ambient temperature and due to the heat that has been delivered in the wee hours.
Prof S Salim Khan, Head Social and Preventive Medicine and Spokesperson for GMC Srinagar and its associated hospitals said it was not possible to keep the broilers on round the clock. He cited the high fuel consumption of the boilers as the reason for the inability to keep the temperatures up the entire day. “SMHS Hospital is a huge hospital and running the system for 24 hours would consume one tanker of High Speed Diesel (HSD) in a day, amounting to Rs 12 lakh,” he said adding that the funds for heating and generators were not in the order of fulfilling this cost. Prof Khan did not answer the quantum of fuel funds allocated to GMC hospitals.
He further said that the hospitals could not run the central heating system for specific areas only as that would lead to inefficiency of heating. “If the corridors are not warmed, the cold air would rush into wards when they are warmed. We have to maintain optimum temperatures,” he said.
However, for patients, the coldest parts of the night are the most uncomfortable ones at the hospitals as the heating systems are switched off. Many people, with their family members in hospitals, have appealed to the government to ensure “comfortable temperatures in hospitals” and allocate adequate funds for the purpose.
At SKIMS Soura and SKIMS Medical College Hospital, the administrators claimed that the central heating system is run round the clock. Medical Superintendent SKIMS Soura, Dr Farooq Jan said the wards and other patient care areas are warmed round the clock since November 15 and the administrative areas are kept warm twelve hours a day. Medical Superintendent, SKIMS Medical College Hospital, Dr Shifa Deva said the hospital started its heating systems ‘well before November 15’ and were keeping these on round the clock ‘except couple of hours in the middle of the day’.