Visuals from outside the Chest Disease Hospital in Jammu on Thursday have shattered the Jammu and Kashmir's administration's argument that there were enough beds for COVID-19 patients, who were seen lying outside in the hospital's parking lot, on a staircase and on the streets due to their non-availability. The incident comes a week after the office of the Lieutenant Governor (LG) Manoj Sinha said that the area had sufficient Oxygen, medicines and beds to cater to rising cases in J&K.
Somnath Dabgotra, a 62-year-old man on the scene who has been assisting COVID-patients, told Newsclick that the situation in Jammu was dire and that the administration was misleading the public.
“The government is deceiving the people. They should be upfront about the fact that they don't have beds, Oxygen, or ventilators. At the very least, people should be aware of the truth. We are being left to fend for ourselves and die,” said Dabgotra.
As per available data, there were two ICU beds with ventilators and 18 isolation beds available at the CD hospital where the incident took place. “There is an acute shortage of beds and the administration is trying to increase the number. The data available is correct but the beds are filing up fast because of the inflow of patients,” said a doctor, requesting anonymity.
Image credits: Raman/Jammu
On Wednesday, in light of the increase in COVID-19 cases in Jammu, an order was issued deferring routine surgeries in government and private hospitals. "In view of the prevailing situation of Covid-19 pandemic in Jammu Division which demands optimal utilisation of available resources so that the existing infrastructure/healthcare facilities are not overburdened, the elective/routine surgeries are required to be deferred (sic)," Jammu Divisional Commissioner Raghav Langer said in the order.
This is not the first such incident which has exposed the administration's claims. Four COVID-19 patients died five days ago at the Acharya Shri Chander College of Medical Sciences (ASCOMS) hospital, popularly known as Batra Hospital, reportedly due to a lack in Oxygen supply. Initially, the government had denied that there was a problem with supply. However, after family members suggested that the patients died due to a unavailability of Oxygen, an investigation committee was formed to look into the matter.
"Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education J&K has appointed Divisional Commissioner Jammu as Inquiry Officer to enquire into the circumstances leading to an incident that occurred at Acharaya Shri Chander Colleges of Medical Sciences and Hospital, Jammu on 01.05 2021, wherein some death have been reported allegedly due to shortage of Oxygen (sic)", the order read.
In yet another instance, the management at the popular GMC hospital in Jammu was unable to administer the influx of patients. Attendants accompanying patients were seen roaming around wards and the hospital's premises without masks and precautionary gear.
As per the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare's instructions, a “willing attendant of the patient” can remain in an “area earmarked by the hospital”.
“The doctors at the hospital have admitted to lapses. These attendants, who spend most of their time with COVID-19 patients, are potential carriers of the deadly infection and increase the chances of transmission in the hospital,” said a doctor who requested anonymity.
On Thursday the Jammu and Kashmir High Court directed the administration to nominate adequate number of nodal officers to ensure supply of Oxygen to patients undergoing treatment at their homes.
The health secretary was asked to submit complete details of the number of COVID-19 hospitals, both government and private, number of beds available, district wise/city wise, quantity of remdesivir allotted to the Union Territory, the exact quantity of Remdesivir received and used with the corresponding figures of the requirement.
The government affidavit had claimed there was no shortage of beds in hospitals as there were 1,354 and 1,708 (total 3062) COVID-dedicated beds, 1,127 and 1,597 beds with oxygen, 227 and 111 ICU beds with ventilators in Jammu and Kashmir regions respectively.
J&K has witnessed a spike in COVID-19 cases with 39,268 active cases at the moment. A total of 52 reported deaths has resulted in an overall death toll of 2,510 people.
With PTI Inputs