Leading endocrinologist and former Director SKIMS, Dr Hamid Zargar talks about his tenure and experiences in Kashmir’s premier heathcare institution in an interview with Ikhlaq Qadri
Kashmir Life: During your tenure as director were there any improvements in the SKIMS?
Dr Hamid Zargar: I will tell you, categorising these into following.
Manpower Development: We got around 800 new posts created of which recruitment has occurred or is finalised. We appointed more than 100 people in the faculty in three years.
Doubled the faculty in Skims Medical College. Bringing in reforms in functioning of SKIMS, we increased powers of purchase sub-committee up to one crore because of which we were able to make purchase at SKIMS only rather than going to main purchasing committee headed by commissioner secretary finance. During this period apart from appointing nurses, technicians and recently computer associates, we regularly promoted our non-gazetted staff and more than 1000 employees have been promoted in my tenure.
Innovation: We got the budget for equipment and machinery increased by five fold. We also expedited physical infrastructure development. During this period we completed a new married doctors hostel, genetic centre, nursing college and modern maternity hospital of which 50 percent of work is done. We also completed basic SKIMS up gradation project for which we should be able to finalise consultancy within a period of month or two.
We improved the visibility of research work done at SKIMS by conducting seminars, symposia and in last four years thousands of doctors and researchers visited SKIMS to see our clinic and research work.
KL: SKIMS was to be is a tertiary care hospital but patients of all categories rush there putting a lot of, some may say, unnecessary load on it…
HZ: Fundamentally, this has to be a decision of masses. I have been insisting that SKIMS should see patients who are referred. Given the difficult socio-political situation it is literally impossible to refuse even if sickness could be treated at relatively smaller hospitals.
KL: In SKIMS the Casualty department is housed in a small place. Successive administrators never thought to make it more spacious?
HZ: This comes in the up-gradation (programme) to create separate Accident & Emergency and separate OPD. I always thought and think that these need to be isolated so the main hospital remains away from hustle and bustle.
KL: The bio-medical waste generated in the hospital is reportedly not disposed off properly…
HZ: SKIMS is the first and only establishment which had the most modern incinerators. The total quantum of waste has increased by ten-fold. We need more incinerators for which tenders have already been issued. With the new water treatment plant this problem will be taken care of for minimum of ten years.
KL: What are the major endocrinology problems in the state of J&K?
HZ: I would say thyroid disease is taking huge toll, diabetes, obesity is emerging as a big problem, Infertility and a particular form of ovarian cancer known as polycystic ovaries as a major issue in young ladies.
KL: The rate of diabetes is increasing in the valley. What are the contributing factors?
HZ: There are few important factors: Disease is now getting diagnosed properly. Patients get better treatment so they live longer. Population in this part of world is increasing so are the diseases. Too many people, too many hassles. Most important is the increased food intake particularly non-veg and decreased physical activity.
KL: SKIMS is ranked high among hospitals in the country but the patients are often seen complaining why is it so?
HZ: It will keep on happening and probably worsening as we discussed everybody goes there. OPD having capacity of 30 patients has to see 200. Time to interact with patient is not there. Besides treating patients need to be engaged socially also. That we are not able to do. Otherwise we do the best procedures. Because of load you get delayed reports, delayed admission. That brings customer dissatisfaction, not work part of it but other associated things.
KL: The government has launched a crackdown on private practice of doctors, what are your views on it?
HZ: I think firstly I must tell, it is blown out of proportion. Doctors can’t work in isolation. In our social structure it is very difficult to refuse seeing a patient. By dint of law, SKIMS is non-practicing Institution and so long as that law exists and employee-employer relationship is defined on non-practicing basis, that law needs to be respected. But I also think there needs to be broader social debate on how we can accommodate requirements of a common man, doctors and government.
KL: After the hectic schedule of a director, what is Dr Zargar planning to do?
HZ: I am basically an endocrinologist and a clinical doctor. I have loved being a clinician and would love to continue to do so. I have already a couple of commitments with AIIMS and Fortis Group of hospitals. I am likely to take one or two more softer assignments. I hope life is going to continue to be busy. Area of impact and influence would be different. I will be splitting my time between valley and outside.