Patients had to face a tough time on Monday as doctors and paramedical staff of the SKIMS Medical College Hospital at Bemina here went on an indefinite strike to protest against ransacking of the institute by a mob.
All operations in the hospital including casualty, OPD as well as IPD at (JVC) were closed on Monday as hundreds of patients were left without receiving consultation and treatment. The strike by doctors and paramedics follows the series of incidents that followed allegations of molestation against a hospital employee by a girl reportedly under the effect of anesthesia.
“The girl was still under sedation and the hospital staff explained to her relatives how she might have misinterpreted the technician’s act of removing ECG wires from her chest as molestation under the effects of anesthesia. But the attendants paid no attention and started ransacking the hospital property,” said Javid Ahmed, Theatre In-charge at SKIMS Medical College Hospital.
Officials said that afterwards, the hospital staff was allegedly subjected to more physical and verbal violence and more hospital equipment was damaged on Sunday.
“Costly hospital equipment for USG, X-Ray, ECHO, and also some equipments in Operation Theatres was damaged and rendered non-functional by the attackers. The fittings in theatre and emergency area were also broken,” they said.
On Monday, the hospital wore a deserted look with OPD, Emergency, Gynecology and labour room and most other facilities locked up. Patients kept pouring in the hospital and were disappointed and underwent inconvenience as they were refused treatment.
On Monday evening, Shakeela, an aged woman from Boatmen Colony Sopore in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district had come with her grandson Showkat Ahmed to the hospital.
“I left my home in morning and reached here at noon. I have been waiting ever since because someone said that strike will be called off. But now I will go to SMHS Hospital,” she said as she struggled to carry her sick grandchild.
Mohsina Bano, of south Kashmir’s Kulgam district had come to the hospital for treatment. Her attendants were seen frantically looking for a transport to take her to LD Hospital as no gynecologist was available for consultation at the hospital.
Some junior doctors were present in the hospital but they said that they were on strike. “Even if we see the patients here, all the basic diagnostic equipment is damaged. We cannot see patients like this,” said a doctor.
Director SKIMS and Principal SKIMS Medical College, Dr. Showkat A Zargar exuded hope that the hospital operation would be resumed soon. “I spent the whole day discussing the problems with the staff at the hospital. The issues would be resolved soon and we are hopeful that tomorrow we will have the OPD and emergency functional,” Dr Zargar said.
According to SKIMS Medical College authorities, the matter was also brought into the notice of SSP Srinagar and IGP Kashmir. “We took up the delayed action by the concerned Divisional Officer, Police Post, Bemina who was immediately informed about the situation for taking appropriate action against mob who damaged equipments in operation theatre and creating unnecessary fear in the hospital,” they said.
However, Muhammad Yaqoob, President SKIMS Medical College Employees Association said, “If our demands for security to the hospital staff and property are not met, we will not go back to our work.” He expressed displeasure over the minimal arrangements of security at the hospital and said that incidents of violence against doctors in the hospital by attendants are quite common.
The employees also demanded release of the employee accused of molestation on bail in addition to bringing to book those responsible for damaging the hospital property. “The damage is to the tune of Rs. 50 lakh at least. Someone has to be held responsible for damaging this costly equipment that was saving lives of thousands,” said a protesting doctor.
According to hospital’s MRD section, more than 1800 patients are catered by the OPD on an average per day. More than 100 patients are admitted daily. In the 250-bedded capacity, more than 350 remain admitted on any given day.