Service at Dhaulagiri Hospital has gone out of gear, patients complainShortage of staff and rise in the number of patients have affected service delivery.
On Thursday, Tuk Bahadur Nepali went to the Dhaulagiri Hospital, in Baglung Bazar, for a medical checkup. The hospital was teeming with a crowd of service seekers queued up in serpentine lines. Nepali spent the day in multiple such lines, only to return home in the evening, dejected and without a checkup. Nepali had travelled a 20km distance from his village Amlachaur to the hospital.
Nepali, who is 40 and suffering from a kidney disease, said he spent two hours at the ticket counter, another hour in the queue at the outpatient department, and then two more hours at the video X-ray counter. After he finally reached the counter, the staff informed him that they were not taking any more patients for the day, asking him to come back the next day.
Nepali, a daily wage earner, said he spent Rs1,200 for the journey to the hospital and back to his village. He said he can’t afford to leave work to return to the hospital. “I neither have the time nor the money to spend on travel again,” he said. “I didn’t get anything done on Thursday and my whole day went to waste.”
Patients visiting the hospital of late complain of poor management at the institution. They say there are difficulties in receiving even the specialised treatments, alleging that the hospital staff are reluctant to provide services to insured patients.
“There is extreme mismanagement at the hospital,” said Lila Kumari Karki, who was at the hospital on Thursday to visit a gynaecologist. Like Nepali, Karki too returned without getting checked after spending hours at the queues. “If their capacity is only 50 patients per day, then they should not have issued more than 50 tickets,” she said.
Dr Shailendra Pokharel, superintendent of the hospital, conceded that patients have had to return from the hospital without getting treatment or receiving medical services. The problem at the hospital, he said, is it has limited human resources. “We had only one radiologist, so we could only take a limited number of patients in a day,” Pokharel said. “We have hired more staff at the X-Ray lab to manage the increasing number of patients.”
The shortage of staff at the hospital has hampered smooth service delivery, according to Tara Prasad Sharma, head of administration. “We have only a few doctors and the number of patients is ever increasing,” Sharma said. “Even our X-Ray lab is understaffed.”
Melina Shrestha, who is 31 and lives in Baglung Bazaar, was another patient who had to return home dejected on Thursday. But she said that the problems of those coming from far-flung villages are more acute than hers. “A hospital must run service for all 24 hours because there are patients coming to the hospital from far-off places,” Shrestha said. “They can’t keep coming back to the hospital.”
The 50-bed hospital which usually sees around 300 patients per day has seen an increase in the number since the summer season began. Now the hospital receives at least 500 patients per day, according to Pokharel, the hospital superintendent. Pokharel blamed this rise for throwing the hospital’s service out of gear. “We are trying to manage,” he said. “We assure patients they wouldn’t have to face such hassles at the hospital in the future.”