GoI sleeps on `450 crore expansion project
Till 3 pm, middle- aged woman Habla from Kupwara has waited three hours in the queue for making a payment at SKIMS Cash Counter. She had also spent an hour at OPD Card Counter in morning, and then outside the medicine OPD she had to wait for another half hour. The counter closed and Habla was asked to come the next day to make the payments.
On Monday, 750 payments were made at the two OPD Cash Counters.
At four OPD Card Counters, 1012 registrations were made. Patients have to wait for hours in crammed counter area where the average waiting time for OPD Counters is 1 hour, and for Cash Counters 3 hours.
Dr. Farooq Jan, Medical Superintendent SKIMS, agreed that there was a ‘ huge load’ at the counters for OPD but said that the Institute was in the process of increasing the number of counters.
“ We have already started construction of a new block adjacent to OPD which will be dedicated entirely for OPD Counters,” he said, adding that the construction is expected to be completed in a year.
In 2012, SKIMS submitted a Rs 452 crore project to Government of India for the much needed expansion. Funding was sought for adding 500 beds, an Emergency and Trauma Center and expanding the OPD infrastructure.
However, no progress was made on the proposal. “ The expansion of counters is being carried out with state funding,” the MS said.
A senior official at SKIMS said that GoI has not done anything to improve the infrastructure of this premier health institute in Kashmir.
“ We talk of super- specialities but look how this hospital is made to suffer for want of major funding,” he said.
The official said that it is common for patients to spend a day at the Institute and return without getting treatment. At 03: 15 pm, when the Cash Counter closed, Mohammad Abbas from Kulgam is fuming with anger as he fans his sweat with the three yellow Investigation Forms. “ I will go and see the Director of this Institute,” he tells people who have also waited for hours in the queue.
Abbas said he had left his village in Kulgam at 7 am. “ Now I have to return without treatment,” he said while some of his companions left to see if payment could be made anywhere else.
Eight lakh patients were seen in SKIMS OPD in 2014. An official said, “ When the Institute was constructed, not even one lakh people were seen in OPD a year. Now, the same infrastructure has to hold such a huge rush.”