On duty!

When almost entire private and government health sector inundated by floods, doctors at SKIMS and JLNM Hospital kept the hopes afloat. Syed Asma reports   

JLNM Hospital Rainawari
JLNM Hospital Rainawari

September 6, 2014, its 2 O Clock in the morning when Adil woke up to the noise outside his house. Getting curious to know what is happening he looked out through the window. In pitch dark, he could only hear noise of heavy traffic and could see the striking headlights of the vehicles coming into his area, Rainawari.

Adil, 25, and his elders, he says, living in the area since decades have not witnessed such a crowd before.

Wanting to know more about the situation Adil moved out of his house and noticed that huge rush of people are seeking shelter in Rainawari. They belong to the adjoining flood hit areas of Khayam, Nowpora, Dalgate, besides a few of them were the ones brought from the city hospitals to get admitted and treated in a super speciality hospital at Rainawari. Adil lives nearby the hospital and has eye witnessed the entire story.

Few of them who had come for the treatment were either brought by their relatives or by the volunteer rescuers. No patients was rescued or referred to Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Hospital (JLNM) through any hospital authority.

After heavy rains, the health centres, both run by government or privately were inundated with waters, including SMHS, G B Panth, LD Hospital, Modern Hospital and Ramzana Hospital. The flood left two hospitals untouched, Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Hospital (JLNM), Rainawari, and Sheri Kashmir Institute of Medical Science (SKIMS) Soura, so both witnessed a heavy flow of patients.

From September 6th, till the next ten days, JLNM hospital received about 200 per cent more than the usual flow of patients, say Dr Mohammed Iqbal, the Medical Superintendent of the hospital. The 150 bed hospital for obvious reasons was over loaded during these days and the management had to accommodate more than one patient on a single bed in some cases.

In JLNM hospital, Dr Iqbal says, a team of 20 doctors worked at a stretch for almost 100 hours for which the management of the hospital is planning to award them with a certificate of appreciation.

Among these 20 were three retired doctors, Dr Rafiq Shagoo, Dr Niyaz Qureshi and Dr Bilal Ahmed and an orthopedician, Dr Imran Muzaffar, who volunteered to help the team of doctors in JLNM for almost 10 days. The retired trio, pre-retirement were posted in JLNM only and Dr Muzaffar, still in service, is presently posted in Sopore. All four live in the close vicinity of the hospital and had volunteered seeing the influx of patients in JLNM.

Besides, three doctors were airlifted from the south of the city in an army chopper and were landed in University of Kashmir, from where they were brought to the hospital in a car.

Dr Iqbal says their team was ready to tackle the burden as the health department on September 05, had issued advisories in favour of all the district hospitals wherein they were asked to double their staff, even in night shifts.  “The government had alerted us already and we were ready to serve the public,” the Medical Superintendent says. In view of the government order, JLNM had eight doctors in the night shift that day.

From September 6-18, while the hospital received huge rush of people, the gynaecologists, anaesthetists, orthopedicians and the theatre team had to share most of the burden. Two gynaecologists, Dr Ruhana Ali and Dr Sabina Maqbool, along with anaesthetists and the theatre team led by Faheem Bukhari performed at least 100 caesareans in the first 100 hours. All these patients were either from LD, G B Pant, Modern and Ramzana Hospital.

The doctors say these cases were difficult to handle as the patients were under shock, besides, most of them did not carry their medical history along. “We did not only carry out the caesareans but also had to re-stitch many of the patients,” says Dr Ruhana Ali.

“The influx of patients was huge and the pressure was 1000 times more than the usual but we gave our best,” says Faheem Bukhari who led the theatre team for all the 10 days. Bukhari sharing his experience says the nature of causalities here was more painful than what he had experienced once in Saudi Arabia when there was a devastating fire incident in Mina while hajj pilgrimage was going on.

Of four operation theatres available in JLNM hospital three were meant for caesarean and the other one was used by orthopedicians to deal with bone fractures.

The damage done to the patients was huge because they were not brought into the hospital in ambulances or under the supervision of some medical team. Most of them were brought in private cars, Tata sumos and on hand carts. “Many volunteers even carried patients from LD hospital in their arms till half way,” says Adil. Despite all these problems there were no deaths in the hospital in these 10 days, says Dr Iqbal with pride.

While performing their duty, the medical superintendent says, the management faced a bit of problems like shortage of fuel as among the 100 crucial hours, 80 hours were without electricity.

The Department of Health services had to air lift almost 500 litres of diesel for generators from Leh. The total consumption of the fuel in their 250 kvk generator sets was 2000 litres, most of which was managed by the locals of the area. Apart from supplying the fuel, the locals took the responsibility of the community kitchen which not only fed the patients in the hospital but also the other flood victims who were temporarily rehabilitated in the area.

Rainawari area hosted three community kitchen serving 215 traamis twice a day. Of which 150 were served in the hospital itself.


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