Towards better paediatric healthcare

The GB Panth children’s hospital is all set to be shifted to 500-bedded facility at Bemina to address issues of overcrowding and poor facilities
"Notably, the upcoming hospital was earlier designated as a 200-bedded Mother and Childcare Institute. However, it was later declared to be established as a full-fledged pediatric hospital with 500 bed capacity in 2019."
"Notably, the upcoming hospital was earlier designated as a 200-bedded Mother and Childcare Institute. However, it was later declared to be established as a full-fledged pediatric hospital with 500 bed capacity in 2019."File: Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

After a delay of several years, the government is scheduled to make the new 500-beded pediatric hospital functional at Bemina. The move is a welcome step as it will address the issues of overcrowding and complaints of poor health care facilities faced by the patients at GB Path hospital.

The mega project has been awaiting its completion for the past many years. The construction work on the hospital has been completed and is scheduled to be inaugurated by the end of this month, if all goes as planned.

Notably, the upcoming hospital was earlier designated as a 200-bedded Mother and Childcare Institute. However, it was later declared to be established as a full-fledged pediatric hospital with 500 bed capacity in 2019.

The principal secretary Health and Medical Education (H&ME) department Manoj Kumar Dwivedi said the shifting of GB Panth hospital to Bemina was already in his “to do” list.

“The hospital is scheduled to be shifted by the end of this month,” he said.

The work on the hospital was initially started in 2013 but the then Chief Minister, Late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in October 2015, gave it an extension and laid the foundation stone for 500-bedded Mother-Child Hospital.

In 2019, the government accorded sanction to conversion of the 200-bedded Maternity Hospital and the 300 bedded Pediatric Hospital at Bemina, Srinagar into a full-fledged 500-bedded Children’s Hospital.

Notably, the present GB Panth hospital has been functional at Sonwar for the past 15 years now. It is the lone children’s hospital in Kashmir which caters to children from across the Valley, and, at times, from Jammu areas as well.

Some persistent problems however with GB Panth Hospital have emerged over the years which are impacting healthcare delivery there. From OPD to Emergency and from wards to laboratories, every section of the hospital remains congested every time.

Three to four patients occupy one bed at GB Panth Hospital leading to fears of spread of infections and other communicable diseases.

“The hospital is congested which hampers the delivery system which ultimately puts the patients at the receiving end,” said a doctor posted at GB Panth hospital.

It does not have a dedicated parking space despite the fact that it is the lone facility for children that caters to patients from as far as Ramban and Banihal districts of Jammu, not to talk of patients from across the Valley.

“Besides the issue of parking space, all other problems will be resolved. The intake capacity of the new hospital is double than this so we will be able to accommodate patients with more available space,” the doctor said.

The hospital falls in the Cantonment area in Sonwar which falls along the Srinagar Jammu national highway. This stretch of the road remains clogged with heavy flow of traffic which impacts travel of patients to the hospital. Many instances in the past have led to incidents where children and patients were stuck in traffic jams.

Over the years poor facilities in GB Panth have come under scanner. It has given rise to the need for better facilities under one roof so that children are not sent to other places for doing tests and completing other formalities related to the health care system.

The then government conceived the idea to shift the GB Panth Hospital to Bemina on City outskirts with the larger aim of decongesting the hospital and to provide better facilities.

The new hospital has a bed capacity of 500 as against 200 of GB Panth Hospital.

More space will give advantage of offering more and better services to patients, apart from addressing the parking issue.

However there has been a delay in shifting of the hospital through August 15 this year was informally fixed as the final deadline.

Notably, the OPD services at 500-bedded Pediatric Hospital Bemina was started in October last year. However the main services at the hospitals are yet to be started.

However, officials said owing to some pending electrical works the shifting got a little bit delayed. However they said the process of shifting has already started and should possibly finish by the end of this month.

Notably, the new pediatric hospital at Bemina witnessed massive damage due to September-2014 floods.

The project did not face any problems related to cost escalation but the main problem was that the project was earlier only 200-bedded but got revised as 500-bedded due to which it took some time for its completion.

The project cost of the new pediatric hospital is Rs 116 crore.

During the execution of the project, the executing agency missed three deadlines in completing the project. First deadline was missed in 2014, second in 2017 and third in 2018.

“We have already completed the construction of the hospital and the floor has been already occupied by the concerned health authorities to install different machines at the hospital,” Chief Engineer R&B department, Rafiq Ahmad told Greater Kashmir.

He said the delay in inauguration of the hospital was not due to incomplete construction. “Construction part is already over, it may take some time for them to make it functional as they have to equip the facilities in it,” he said.

Once the hospital becomes operational it is expected to ease the burden on the main referral institution GB Pant Hospital which remains overcrowded and overburdened due to huge patient rush.

Principal Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar Dr Samia Rashid said they were already aware of the issues faced by the patients at the GB Panth hospital Sonwar.

“We are aware of the problems and we are likely to shift the hospital to Bemina to provide better health care facilities to the patients,” she said.

She said the hospital was scheduled to be shifted by August 15 but there were some issues with the electrical wing.

“We are busy in this process and will hopefully shift the hospital by the end of this month,” she said.

The authorities must prioritise shifting of the hospital so that the August-end deadline is met.

It will go a long way in easing patients and offer them better facilities under one roof. The government has already prioritised rural healthcare.

Making the Bemina pediatric faculty fully operational in all respects, along with putting in place necessary human resources, can be a great contribution in the way of providing quality healthcare services in the Valley. The government deserves applause for making this happen.

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.

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