Bharatpur Hospital hamstrung by staff shortageThe Cabinet decided to upgrade the hospital to a ‘central hospital’ in February but no steps have been taken to turn it into one yet.
Som Kumari Pandey, 80, was rushed to Bharatpur Hospital after suffering from acute asthma attack on Friday. The health workers at the hospital asked her to come back the following day to undergo an echocardiography. But when she checked back at the hospital on Saturday, she had to return without getting the test done because the hospital remains “closed” on Saturdays.
Som Kumari went back to the hospital on Sunday again only to find the doctor had gone on a holiday and hence she would have to go elsewhere to get her test done.
Her son, Dipak Pandey, took her to a private hospital on Monday for the cardiac echo test. “The hospital services were closed on Saturdays. We went to the echocardiography unit on Sunday again, but the echocardiographer was on leave,” said Dipak.
Talking to the Post over the phone, Dr Mani Prasad Gautam, the echocardiographer at the hospital, said that he will resume his duty only on Tuesday.
The 540-bed hospital was established 56 years ago. But the current number of health workers at the hospital can only handle 150 beds.
On February 15, the Cabinet had decided to upgrade the hospital, but the process has not moved ahead. “The hospital receives around 1,500 patients on a daily basis but we are not equipped to provide full services to all patients,” said Lila Paudel, information officer at the hospital.
For patients like Som Kumari, visiting a private hospital is an additional burden since the services at private hospitals are much more expensive. Dipak said that he spent Rs1,800 for echocardiography at the private hospital.
“At Bharatpur Hospital cardiac echo test costs Rs1,200 but private hospitals charge at least Rs 500 more,” he said.
Until mid-April, there were two echocardiographers at the hospital. Another echocardiographer Dr Keshav Acharya, who is set to retire soon, has also been on leave for sometime now.
“I am a physician but I have also been working as an echocardiographer because I have learnt to conduct the tests over the years, and also because one doctor cannot handle so many patients alone,” said Gautam. “I have done up to 27 cardiac echo tests in a day.”
The shortage of doctors is not only limited to the echocardiography unit, it plagues all other units at the hospital too.
According to Paudel, departments like Neurosurgery and Psychiatry are also reeling under the shortage of doctors.
Dr Shreeram Tiwari, medical superintendent of the hospital, said that the government has not even fixed posts for health workers, medical staff, doctors, and nurses even after being declared a central hospital in the province.
“We don’t have enough health workers to cater to the number of patients we receive,” said Tiwari. “We have requested the government to conduct a survey to create posts and deploy the number of employees needed at the hospital.”
According to him, officials of the Ministry of Health and Population have said that the ministry will soon conduct a survey, fill the vacant posts and create new ones to meet the demands of the hospital. “We are waiting for the ministry to move the work forward so that we can run the hospital the way it’s supposed to be run as a central hospital,” said Tiwari.