by Masrat Nabi

BARAMULLA: The Associate Hospital of Government Medical College Baramulla has failed to come up as an alternative tertiary care health facility for the north Kashmir districts. The hospital lacks diagnostic facilities, hygienic washrooms and also proper accommodation facilities for students.

LG Sinha Lays Foundation Stone of GMC Baramulla on August 14, 2022

The hospital’s washrooms are filthy with the potential to further accentuate an illness or even start a new one.

“Hospitals are meant to make us feel safe and provide an environment where one receives proper medical attention,” Muneera Hassan, a patient said. “But these washrooms here are in a mess.”

A group of patients said that they feel that they are at risk of contracting new infections due to the poor hygiene level of the hospital.

Safeena, a patient said, “The air stinks, there is urine on the floor, and the water faucets are broken.”

Suraya Malik said, “Once I opened the door of a toilet at the hospital I had to immediately step back because a musty, unpleasant odour permeated the air. I could barely make out the shape of the commode as it was covered in mould and mildew. A thick layer of grime had accumulated on the walls and floor, and it was clear that no attempt had been made to clean this public space.

Suraya then opted for the washroom of a nearby restaurant.

Students of GMC Baramulla in December 2022. Pic: GMC Baramulla FB page

While unhygienic washrooms are a part and parcel of the hospital, the facility also doesn’t conduct the ECHO test for several months. An ECHO is an important device used to evaluate the condition of the heart and is essential for patients suffering from cardiac ailments. It checks the structure of the heart and surrounding blood vessels, analyses how blood flows through them, and assesses the pumping chambers of the heart.

The ECHO test facility was started a few years ago at the hospital after Jammu and Kashmir Bank donated the device under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

However, the hospital authorities have failed to ensure that the device was regularly maintained. The ECHO device granted to the hospital by Jammu and Kashmir Bank was in reality secured by the civil society of Baramulla who persuaded the higher officials of the lead bank.

Like the washrooms and the ECHO, the students pursuing their MBBS course from the Government Medical College Baramulla are also in the doldrums.

The students have been complaining about the non-availability of hostel facilities within the premises along with the lack of transport facilities as well. The situation has forced many students to opt for costly private accommodations wherefrom commuting is also expensive. The college has students from as far as Jammu and Ladakh who are forced to take these private accommodations adding to their monthly expenses.

Also, the students have raised concerns about the limited availability of laboratories in the college.

A student said, “Anatomy lab isn’t a proper one.  We were supposed to do a practical session at the forensic lab but that never happened. We had to contend with digital content. This presents some difficulties since online content cannot provide the same level of interactivity and first-hand experience that a laboratory setting would have given us.”

A group of students said, “We were promised hostel facilities within the campus. Completion of the hostel seems a distant dream given the slow pace of work,”

Medical Superintendent GMC Baramulla Dr Parvez Masoodi said that on daily basis they receive around 7000 patients for which limited washrooms are available. “We have already put people for proper sanitation in the hospital. But with such a huge influx of patients, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain hygiene, yet the health of our patients and staff remains a priority.”

“I have also implemented strict cleaning protocols to ensure that every single washroom is cleaned and disinfected thoroughly at least twice a day, and we will expand the infrastructure and build more washrooms so that we can provide a safe and healthy environment for everyone.”

Principal GMC Baramulla Dr Rubi Reshi didn’t want to comment on the story.

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