Karnali hospitals don’t have enough human resources to fight Covid-19The situation in Karnali Province is becoming increasingly worrisome since the mortality rate among critical Covid-19 patients is high, say health workers.
On Tuesday night, Bishal Sunar, a resident of Narayan Municipality Ward No. 1 in Dailekh, telephoned the Corona Special Hospital in Surkhet after his Covid-19 infected father’s health condition worsened. Doctors at the hospital advised him to admit his father to Dailekh Hospital since the latter had beds with ventilators.
But upon reaching Dailekh Hospital, he found out that there were no health workers to operate ventilators. Sunar’s father died at the hospital on Wednesday.
Many like Sunar’s father have lost their lives to Covid-19 in Karnali Province because of the unavailability of ventilators and a shortage of health workers.
On April 19, a 40-year-old Covid-19 infected woman also died at a hospital in Rukum (West) for want of a ventilator. Health workers at the hospital could not run the machine due to a lack of knowledge and skills.
“The Covid-19-infected woman died in the ventilator room. But we could not run the machine and save her. It has been a painful experience for us,” said Dr Raj Kumar Bhujel of the District Hospital in Rukum (West).
According to the Provincial Health Directorate of Karnali Province, out of a total of 34 ventilators in the province, only 23 are being operated.
“The 23 ventilators are in operation in the Surkhet-based Karnali Provincial Hospital and Jumla-based Karnali Academy of Health Sciences. The remaining 11 ventilators have remained unused in various hospitals of the districts,” said Dr Rabin Khadka, director at the provincial health directorate.
“We had provided a four-day training to some doctors and nurses at the district hospital to run the ventilators. But the short training did not prove helpful. The staff were not able to run the machines,” Khadka added.
The situation in Karnali Province is becoming increasingly worrisome since the mortality rate among critical Covid-19 patients is high. According to Khadka, five deaths were reported from the Karnali Provincial Hospital in Surkhet and one each from health facilities in Rukum (West) and Dailekh.
“If the death rate keeps on increasing, it will be very difficult to take the situation under control,” said Khadka, adding that the risk is particularly high in Surkhet than any other districts in the province.
Until Friday evening, the province has reported 1,200 active cases. Among them, around 70 are on supplemental oxygen in various hospitals of the province and those with minor symptoms are staying in home isolation.
Karnali Provincial Hospital in Surkhet has been receiving an exceedingly high flow of critical patients in recent days. Until Friday evening, all 35 beds equipped with oxygen supply at the provincial hospital were fully occupied. Four other beds have also been installed under a tent outside the ward to accommodate more patients.
“We are preparing to shift the Corona Special Hospital into the old building of the Karnali Provincial Hospital due to the mounting numbers of Covid-19 patients we are receiving these days. An oxygen plant has already been installed at the old building. We can provide treatment to around 100 Covid-19 patients there,” said Dr Dambar Khadka, director at Karnali Provincial Hospital.
According to Khadka, the administration will shift the Corona Special Hospital to the old building by Sunday.
“But if the number of patients increases further, we will not be able to manage them even at the old building of the Karnali Provincial Hospital,” he said.
Patients from various districts across the province are referred to Karnali Provincial Hospital. Last year, the provincial government had purchased and sent ventilators and ICU beds in all 10 district hospitals of the province. But most remained unused due to staff shortage.
There are only five skilled health workers in Karnali Province. Among five, three are in Karnali Academy of Health Sciences in Jumla while two are working in the Karnali Provincial Hospital.
“The overwhelmed Corona Special Hospital has started to admit only critical patients. We have been providing medicines and necessary advice to those who don’t need oxygen supply. Every day, our hospital has been turning away four to five Covid-19 patients to their homes since we are filled to capacity.”
There are only 14 health workers, including doctors and nurses, at the Corona Special Hospital.
“One health worker has to provide treatment to 10 patients in three shifts. We need at least 40 health workers for 35 admitted patients. Health workers are overwhelmed. How could patients get effective services in this situation?” said Paudel.