Bhairahawa Covid-19 hospital lacks infrastructure and human resourceThe hospital had received three ventilators from provincial government but there are no staff to operate them.
Ten days ago, a Covid-19 patient of Bank Road in Siddharthanagar Municipality Ward No. 5 fell unconscious at his home. The 47-year-old’s family called for an ambulance from the nearby Bhim Hospital. But the hospital did not send the ambulance on time and the patient died for want of treatment.
Bhim Hospital in Bhairahawa, also known as the district hospital in Rupandehi, has been running as a Covid-19 Hospital since March. However, the hospital is reeling under a shortage of physical infrastructure and human resources and has been facing difficulties in providing effective services to patients.
Dr Shakuntala Gupta, the medical superintendent of the hospital, said, “Ever since the provincial government designated Bhim Hospital as the Covid-19 hospital, we have been having problems in running the hospital effectively. We have received no additional infrastructure or human resources to deal with the pandemic.”
According to Gupta, the hospital should have a separate ambulance to carry Covid-19 patients. “But we don’t have a separate ambulance nor do we have enough human resources,” she said.
The hospital at present has only one ambulance that is being used to carry pregnant and postpartum women. “The same ambulance that carries Covid-19 patients cannot be used for pregnant and postpartum mothers,” said Gupta.
According to the hospital data, around 10 to 12 pregnant women give birth at the hospital on a daily basis.
“Among them, three to four women undergo C-section delivery,” Gupta said. “If an ambulance carries a Covid-19 patient, we have to send the driver to stay in quarantine. But we have only one ambulance driver at the hospital. That is why we cannot use our ambulance to carry Covid-19 patients.”
The problem is not limited to the ambulance facility. There’s also a shortage of skilled human resources to operate ventilators in the hospital. On September 7, the provincial government provided three ventilators to the hospital but there are no health workers to operate them. Because of this, Covid-19 patients are not receiving ventilator services.
“There should be one aesthesist and an assistant to operate the equipment. But have none,” said Dr. Gupta.
On September 7, the hospital started operating its ventilators with the help of some health workers from Universal Teaching Hospital, a private hospital in Bhairahawa.
“But the health personnel returned to their own hospital within a few days,” said Dr Narayan Pokharel, spokesperson at the hospital. “Our hospital receives three to four Covid-19 patients on a daily basis. But critical patients who need ventilator support cannot be treated here. We have to refer patients to other hospitals if they need ventilator services, as we lack the staff to operate the machine.”
Govinda Gyawali, chief at the hospital administration, said, “We have been requesting the ministry to send us an anesthetist and an assistant to operate the ventilators. The ministry said it would send them soon but we have yet to receive any personnel.”
According to him, the hospital plans to hire human resources to operate ventilators on its own, as the ministry has delayed sending over the required health workers.
Besides Covid-19 patients, around 250 service seekers visit the hospital on a daily basis. The 25-bed hospital is currently running with 95 beds but the number of health workers remains the same.
Out of three posts of medical specialists and three posts of medical officers in the hospital, one post of each is still vacant. Out of 10 posts of staff nurses, two are vacant whereas the hospital has only one auxiliary nurse midwife and 16 office assistants.
“With limited manpower, we are facing difficulties in treating Covid-19 patients and patients of other ailments. We have been compelled to deploy the same health workers in both the Covid-19 isolation ward and other medical wards,” Gyawali said.
According to Dr. Gupta, the hospital needs thrice more health workers and other staffers to provide effective health services to patients of Covid-19 and other ailments.