Demolishing public healthcare, the Nagaland way

Demolishing public healthcare, the Nagaland way

Dimapur District Civil Hospital in shambles as threat of epidemic looms large

 

Morung Express News
Dimapur | May 10

 

If you are wondering where the next epidemic outbreak will be from, consider the Dimapur District Civil Hospital.
Contractors hired by the Nagaland State’s Directorate of Health and Family Welfare have demolished the patients’ wards at the Civil Hospital without any alternative spaces provided. This has led to patients being relocated in nooks and crannies of the existing building, often without enough space, sanitation and hygiene to recover.

Some paediatric patients have to be fit into a tin shed outside a neo-natal care unit to avoid an impending accident at the paediatric ward. (Morung Photos)
Some paediatric patients have to be fit into a tin shed outside a neo-natal care unit to avoid an impending accident at the paediatric ward. (Morung Photos)

“The patient surgical and medical wards were demolished in December 2014 without any alternative space created. We didn’t even get any official direction to shift patients from some of the wards that are leaking and waiting for an accident to happen, so we just moved them anyway,” says a top medical official at the Civil Hospital.

 

The demolition of the wards gave way to vibration and dust that made it hard for patients and medical procedures. So just as abruptly as it had begun, the demolition was stopped.

 

A short walk through the Civil Hospital shows the paediatric section and surgical consultancy rooms leaking and falling apart. Poor construction seems to be a hallmark of the Hospital. Single iron beams support the first storey of the building, as seen through the demolished wards. Towards the end of last year, a surgeon had a narrow escape as a huge block of the ceiling fell as he was checking on patients at the surgical consultancy room. Worried, the Hospital staff also shifted the paediatric patients who were housed next door.

Now, the male and female medical wards are crammed into the Ayush building (already replete with cracks—poor construction again) in the Hospital premise. The building was meant for treatment of patients with physical disabilities, for whom two rooms have now been left, albeit gathering dust

 

. The male surgical ward is also here while the female surgical ward has been relocated to the Hospital’s auditorium.

Shared bathrooms at the Ayush building are leaking, with defunct wash basins and toilets raising a stink. The nurses’ duty station is amalgamated into a changing cum store room and, at times, a mess.

 

DimapurMeanwhile, the paediatric ward is now housed at the Special Neo-Natal Care Unit of the Civil Hospital with 11 defunct incubators, meant for neo-natal care, pushed into a tiny store room. Without any help from the State administration, the nurses at the Hospital have generated internal resources and manpower to construct a tin outer extension to accommodate more patients. The isolation/Ebola ward is now in a former storeroom. The only functional and clean ward is the one for VIPs.

 

“We have become carpenters and mechanics, trying to remodel spaces in the building to accommodate patients, but an epidemic outbreak is looming large,” informs a nurse, as she ironically sighs with relief that the Civil Hospital has no Intensive Care Unit (ICU) till date. With electricity sometimes off for two days at the Hospital, the patients already struggle to recover. The Hospital was graced with a 1000kv generator which could not be financially or technically maintained. Without electricity, critical surgeries and other basic health care is impossible in Dimapur, making a joke of public healthcare.

 

“The summer is going to hit us bad this year. Patients increase and we have no more space to adjust,” says a medical staff—with a previous capacity of 161 (including isolation and emergency services), the current indoor patient intake at the Hospital is 138. Attempts to reach the Directorate of Health and Family Welfare for comments were in vain. However, alternate sources informed that a new building is under construction that will house a new OPD and investigations unit, while the old building will be rebuilt to house indoor patients within an unknown timeframe.

 

The previous leadership of Nagaland State’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, according to various CAG reports, was steeped in corruption and lack of sight. Presently, as basic health care falls off the ceiling, Nagaland’s leaders are in New Delhi asking for a medical college in the State. New Delhi should take time to consider this given the Government of Nagaland’s seriousness towards public health.

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