As the clock ticked 10.50pm on Monday, my wife complained of headache and indigestion. With no option left we rushed to Government Medical College (GMC) Baramulla for the treatment.
The GMC Baramulla is located at a distance of around one kilometer from our home. It took me around five minutes to reach the hospital and I directly rushed to the registration counter to get the prescription.
The situation was not good at all as the patient I was attending was not in a position to walk a few steps more and wanted some immediate treatment.
Holding the patient with my right hand and the prescription in my left hand, I rushed to the doctor available in the emergency (Casualty) ward.
The doctor started examining the patient by checking her blood pressure. As the strap of the blood pressure monitor machine was tied on the right arm of the patient, a young man donning a blue apron stood behind me and asked for extra BP apparatus lying on the doctor’s table.
“Take it but it is not working,” the doctor replied to this young man. With this a brief conversation started between the two young decent persons. Till now around two minutes had passed and the doctor was yet to get the blood pressure result.
But the conversation between the two doctors continued. Now, their conversation seemed irritating to me as my patient was literally pleading for doctor’s help.
I lost my control and interrupted the conversation and asked the person to take the Glucometer kit and leave the spot without disturbing the doctor who was attending my patient.
Yes, my tune was not low which was not well received by that person whom I couldn’t recognise whether he was from the paramedic staff or a doctor.
But my interruption infuriated the doctor examining my patient.
“You cannot talk to us like this,” he said. It gave me an idea that it was a conversation between two doctors.
“My patient is dying and he was interrupting that is why I behaved like this. You please tell me is my patient alright,” I replied.
“The output of BP will decide, she might have high or low BP that is why she is complaining of headache,” he said.
With this another minute passed by and the doctor in a decent way said the BP monitoring machine was not working and asked me to take the patient to an adjacent room.
“I am not able to walk, Let me sit on the floor,” the patient whispered in my ear.
I somehow convinced her to walk a few steps till she got the medicine.
“I am dying, I cannot walk,” she replied and walked to the adjacent room.
The doctor checked the BP and prescribed some fluids. Till now my mother and younger brother reached the hospital. Yes, everyone in my family was worried about the health condition of my wife.
Now coming back to the point. I got the fluids from the pharmacy available adjacent to the emergency ward but I could not get a bed for the patient.
“Two patients share one bed here, so arrange some space for your patient,” the doctor said.
His statement left me furious. I was roaming from one corner to another corner of the ward to get some space for my patient but I could not get it as the majority of the beds were shared by two patients and those lying alone refused to give space citing their serious health conditions.
“My patient has serious ailments, she cannot even sit, please give some space so that she can lay on the bed,” I urged the patients but I did not convince anyone.
The situation did not make me helpless but I was getting more furious after observing how the patients are treated here.
Holding the fluids in my hand, I was looking everywhere for a little space.
When nothing worked, I directly called the Principal GMC Baramulla to narrate my tale. But I ensured that I must talk to her in a low tune.
“Principal has nothing to do with it. Talk to MS there, it pertains to him only,” she said and left no option for me than to drop the call.
More than 20 minutes passed and my patient was literally weeping while leaning to a pillar.
“Please do something. It is going out of control now. My head will blow up now and I am feeling suffocated here,” she again whispered in my ear.
I gave her hope that everything will be alright and tried to contact the medical superintendent but all my attempts to call him proved futile as he did not respond to my call. It is a secondary question that whether the MS of GMC Baramulla was supposed to be there or his job is from 10 to 5. This is not the point of discussion here.
As I was struggling for space in the hospital premises, one private security guard at the hospital helped to get one trolley for my patient.
I had a sigh of relief thinking that my patient will get some relief now.
But it did not end here. As the patient laid on it, I could not find any one from the nursing staff to inject the fluid.
Looking for the staff, I found one staff member roaming in the ward. I approached him and asked him to help the patient.
“I am not on duty. Look for the staff sitting in the room,” he replied.
As I opened the door of the nursing staff room, I found it empty.
“Please can you inject the fluid in my patient,” I urged the guy sitting in the injection room.
“I am busy here. Call some other guy,” he replied.
Till now more than half an hour passed and my patient was yet to get the actual treatment after she was diagnosed with gastroenteritis. No doubt the doctor examined her but even after the passage of more than half an hour, she was yet to get the fluids.
Disturbed with the disturbing situation at the hospital, I approached one female doctor examining patients.
“See, that is not my job, You please go to CMO and complain to him,” she replied in a decent way.
While heading to the CMOs room, I again encountered the doctor who examined my patient.
“Now do you realise why I shouted at your colleague. More than half an hour has passed and my patient is yet to get the fluids,” I somehow yelled at him.
“See, you cannot blame me for this. I am not the authority here. My job was to see your patient, I did that. Let me tell you, If my mother will complain of some ailments I will never take her here,” he replied.
With this, I went to the CMO room only to return disappointed as I was told that CMO had gone to Covid ward of the hospital.
A few minutes later a nursing staff member came and injected fluids bringing some relief to me.
After some time, I heard that CMO is back in office and ilI again went there to narrate my tale.
“We have a limited number of beds in the emergency ward and if we the patients outnumber the available beds we go for bed sharing. What else can we do? I understand it is a problem here but the government has provided us only this much,” he said to pacify me.
He however acknowledged the lack of coordination in the nursing staff and assured that he will look into the issue.
“I will see to it and I will make it sure that it should not happen next time,” he said.
He said the non-availability of beds was a technical problem and the principal GMC Baramulla has taken up the matter with the government.
“The work on an additional 200 bedded building is going on. Once the work gets completed, that will address the issue,” he said.
With this I left his room and went to attend my patient.
“I am feeling better now,” she said.
We spent a few hours more in the hospital to complete the dose of fluids. Finally, we left the hospital at around 4.15am on Tuesday.
Now, the patient is fully recovered but the situation I faced in the hospital still haunts me.
What if anything untoward would have happened while I was struggling for space in hospital and the nursing staff to get his job done.
Should I blame the hospital authorities or the government for all this mess? Or is it me who is to be blamed for taking my patient there with so many expectations. I am yet to answer it to myself.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.