The COVID-19 threat and an incomplete Dimapur Dist Hospital
Upgrading Dmr Dist Hospital, 6 years in the making
Dimapur | March 26
COVID-19 looms. Nagaland has sounded the alarm and the Medical department on alert.
Yet all the preventive steps taken by the state government have not stopped the citizenry from questioning the battle-worthiness of the state’s health infrastructure, especially the government hospitals.
Being the most populous, a floating population and almost non-existent civic hygiene, Dimapur’s readiness in the face of an influx of the virus has become a cause for concern for the fact that the state-run District Hospital does not have the requisite infrastructure. All it can boast of is an OPD and Diagnostics block – which also houses the Blood Bank – and a dilapidated maternity ward with a few cabins.
Since the demolition of the old structure, general patients requiring hospitalization were being crammed into a 10-bed AYUSH building— a structure for 10 people playing the role of a 150-bed hospital.
Before it was designated a COVID-19 hospital by the state government, the isolation ward (4 rooms for 10 beds), initially set up at the hospital, came at the cost of the child ward, which was relocated to the Maternity block.
Now, with the COVID-19 threat looming and an emergent need for ample room for secure isolation units, the lack of infrastructure in the District Hospital has become all the more glaring.
Despite this, the state government and the Department of Health & Family Welfare (H&FW) have been silent on the status of the project to upgrade the Dimapur District Hospital from 150-bed to a 200-bed facility.
Oblivious to most, construction of the new hospital complex (officially known as Upgradation of District Hospital Dimapur) remains incomplete after almost 6 years. The project, worth Rs 23.37cr in total, was sanctioned by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare in 2013 through the National Health Mission’s Forward Linkages Scheme and construction started the next year.
Information accessed by The Morung Express through an RTI application stated that the sanctioned amount was inclusive of costs for incorporating other amenities in addition to constructing two separate blocks for OPD & Diagnostics and in-patient wards.
As per the DPR copy that came with the RTI replies, the other expenses/amenities included demolition (of old structure), landscaping, water, mortuary, quarters, equipment, drainage & approach road, waste management et cetera. (See box for cost breakup)
Rs 4,20,18,114 was the projected cost for Block-A and Rs 8,94,03,825 was the projected cost for Block B.
The information released by the Directorate of H&FW attributed the date of (work) commencement as April 19, 2014 and the stipulated time of completion was 24 months.
Reason(s) for delay
As per Department officials, the construction was planned phase-wise so as not to disrupt the routine functioning of the hospital. It implied constructing the new OPD and Diagnostics Block (or Block A) on a fresh site within the hospital complex, which started in April 2014 and completed sometime in mid-2017.
Subsequently, the old OPD was moved to the newly constructed Block A, while the general in-patient wards were temporarily relocated to an unused AYUSH building.
Meanwhile, the construction period has been extended twice already. “Time of completion was extended since Block A had to be completed first… Block B started only after completing Block A,” stated the RTI replies.
Dismantling of the old building “was done partially in order to avoid inconvenience to the hospital authority and patients as a whole. The shifting of the Blood Bank also took time since it needed prior approval from FDA (Food and Drug Administration),” were the other reasons attributed.
Construction of Block B was said to have started in July 2017.
Presently, work on Block B has come to a halt. It remains incomplete as well as other amenities projected in the DPR. As for the one-storied Block A, it today houses the OPD, Diagnostics and the Blood Bank. The total amount released for the project, as on February 2020, stood at 15.99cr, as per the RTI replies.