District hospital in Nawalparasi (East) not operating at its full capacityThe 49-bed facility has been reeling under a shortage of staff and Covid-19 pandemic. Local residents say they have to visit other city hospitals even for minor illnesses.
The District Hospital in Nawalparasi (East), the only Covid-19 hospital in the district, is not able to function at full capacity due to a shortage of health workers.
The Danda-based hospital, which has a total posts of 31 health workers, has only six health workers on duty at present. It does not have a single doctor.
“The Intensive Care Unit and ventilator service are yet to be operated at full capacity due to the shortage of specialist doctors and trained health workers,” said Chhabilal Subedi, the information officer at the hospital. “We have informed the higher authorities about the urgent need for medical professionals but we are yet to hear from them.”
There are around three dozen health institutions—both public and private—in Nawalparasi (East) but the District Hospital is the only health facility with ICU and ventilator services. The hospital has five ICU beds and three ventilators at present.
“But only three ICU beds are in operation now. We don’t have enough health workers to fully utilise our resources here,” said Subedi.
According to Subedi, due to the government authorities’ indifference, the hospital has had to utilise its own internal resources to appoint nine health workers, including eight doctors, on a contract basis.
The Social Development Ministry of Gandaki Province on Monday decided to deploy Dr Bir Bahadur Thapa, a medical specialist, as the medical superintendent of the hospital. However, Thapa has yet to arrive at Danda.
The 49-bed hospital has also set up an isolation ward with six beds. Two Covid-19 patients are receiving treatment at the isolation ward at present.
“We have been operating a Polymerase Chain Reaction laboratory as well for the past three months. More than 1,000 PCR tests have been conducted at the lab so far,” said Dr Gopal Khanal, chairman of the hospital management committee.
The Gandaki provincial government had turned the Madhyabindu Smriti Community Hospital—established 12 years ago with the initiative of local residents—into the District Hospital two years ago, allowing it to run 15 beds.
However, local residents complain that the hospital now operates as a referral centre.
“The hospital does not carry out even minor surgeries, citing a lack of specialist doctors and other trained human resources,” said Madhu Adhikari, a resident of Madhyabindu. “We have to go to Bharatpur to receive treatment for even minor illnesses.”
It is becoming increasingly necessary for the hospital to operate at its full capacity given the daily uptick in Covid-19 cases in the district, says Subedi.
“We are trying our best to improve the services at the hospital since ours is the only Covid-19 hospital in the district,” he said. “We hope to hear from the concerned authorities soon about the hiring of medical staff at the hospital.”
The district hospital is visited by the residents of Kawasoti and Madhyabindu municipalities and Hupsekot, Binaya Tribeni and Baudikali rural municipalities. According to the hospital administration, around 180 patients—mostly suffering from non-communicable diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes—visit the hospital on a daily basis.
According to Keshav Chapagain, chief at the District Health Office, a total of 2,531 people have been infected with Covid-19 since mid-March last year with 17 new positive cases reported on Tuesday. As of Tuesday, the district has reported 32 deaths.