Bhairahawa-based Bhim Hospital struggling amid funds crunchDoctor shortage could force it to discontinue appendicitis and hernia surgeries, officials say.
Last week, Omprakash Pandey, a resident of ward 3 of Tinau Rural Municipality in Palpa, took her wife to Bhim Hospital in Siddharthanagar Municipality in Bhairahawa.
Besides Pandey's worry that his wife was going through labour, he frequently looked at the roof of the hospital, filled with cracks, fearing that it could fall on them anytime.
"I don’t know what worried me more—the hospital roof or my wife giving birth to our baby. Looking at the roof, it felt like it was going to collapse any moment," said Pandey.
In the in-patient department of Bhim Hospital, aside from the worries the patients and their attendants have about illness and care, they are also anxious about the condition of the roof.
According to Narayan Bhandari, chairman of the hospital management committee, due to the poor infrastructure of the hospital, visitor numbers have been declining. More than 800 patients would visit the hospital daily for health checkups, but that number has decreased over the past few months.
"The hospital is in dire need of renovation, which will cost some Rs440 million. Although the provincial government had promised to provide the money, it has yet to make good on the promise," said Bhandari.
According to the hospital administration, the construction of a three-story building with a well-equipped maternity ward, is nearing completion at the cost of Rs140 million. The plan of the hospital was to operate a maternity home, a newborn and maternity care center, a surgery room, a routine infant vaccination center, and a ticket booth for outpatients in the building. The building design also includes an elevator.
Under the upgrade plan, the hospital wants to build a general ward building, construct a boundary wall and make various improvements, totalling Rs300 million. But these works are pending due to lack of funds.
According to Khim Bahadur Pandey, head of the hospital, there are several plans for upgrading the hospital, but due to budget constraints, everything has been put on hold. The hospital has 120 beds, but is currently understaffed.
"The hospital is operating with a staff of 120, which is enough for handling a 50-bed healthcare facility. We need two more radiologists, but lack of budget has forced us to shelve new hirings," said Pandey.
The hospital had earlier written to the provincial health ministry urgently requesting the appointment of 71 people, including specialist doctors. But so far, they have sent fewer than nine, according to Pandey.
Nurul Hoda, medical superintendent of the hospital, said the hospital had recently started performing surgeries for appendicitis and hernia, but he fears they might have to discontinue the procedures owing to funds crunch.