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Chronic ills plague Lahore's Shaikh Zayed Hospital

Chronic ills plague Lahore's Shaikh Zayed Hospital

LAHORE: Patients and their kin have been suffering at the hands of the Shaikh Zayed Hospital (SZH) administration and the ‘noncooperative’ nursing and paramedical staff.

Multiple ills plague this one of the major health facilities which treats patients not only from Lahore but also from various parts of Punjab. Overcrowded emergency department, insanitary conditions and a lack of departmental coordination agonise the patients and impertinence of the nursing and other staff add insult to injury. Even the few dedicated doctors appear helpless in the absence of the most basic facilities.

“The emergency department, specialised wards and laboratories are plagued by mismanagement and insanitation which repel the patients and their attendants. The emergency department is working beyond its capacity and the patients – even the critical ones -- are forced to share beds and wait for their turn,” says a visitor.

As the relatives of many patients sit on the main entrance floor and in corridors, he says, the movement of people is restricted and the cramped rooms make administration of first-aid or treatment all the more difficult.

Inadequate arrangements at counters and in the wards, he says, make people vulnerable to viral infections, especially Covid-19. The only pharmacy on the hospital premises remains crowded the whole day through, as do the cafeteria.

Worse still, the facilities in the wards are abysmal and the nursing staff and those responsible for tending the patients allegedly misbehave with them and their relatives or attendants.

“The nursing and allied staff is rude to the attendants who already go through an agonising experience of a patient’s health issues. They even improperly react to the polite queries and hardly cooperate in timely providing test reports and maintaining patients’ files. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that those accompanying a patient have to explain the case history every time a new duty doctor visits,” complains Nauman who recently remained admitted to hospital’s gastroenterology ward.

It is alarming, he says, that the patients with relatively minor issues are admitted with those fighting critical illnesses and exposed to viral infections of serious nature. A lack of proper cleanliness in the wards is a major issue which can aggravate health problems. One can see cockroaches and other insects on the hospital beds and other paraphernalia which is an indication of an administrative lapse, he says.

“The doctors already seem overburdened and have no time to lend a sympathetic ear to such complaints. At the same time, one fails to find any administrative official around to register a complaint and this emboldens the staff to misbehave with the attendants,” corroborates another patient.

Shaikh Zayed Hospital, Lahore, once used to be one of the best health facilities but the rot set in many years ago, reveals an official. Its performance further declined when it went into the control of the federal government and protests by doctors and repeated complaints by its own employees have failed to stir the conscience of those in the saddle, he adds.

The patients and their attendants demand that Prime Minister Imran Khan and the authorities concerned take appropriate action to help improve the facilities at the hospital and overcome other administrative lapses to mitigate the sufferings of the ailing.

An official claims that the hospital is in a mess because of financial crunch and indifference of the federal government. He says the promotions of senior doctors of the SZH have been pending as the last departmental committee meeting was held in December 2016. Consequently, many departments and wards are being run by junior doctors, he says.

Most importantly, he says, it is headed by a head of a department on ‘an additional charge’ basis for the last one and a half years. It has assigned cleanliness job to ‘privately hired’ staff in some departments.

At present, the hospital faces shortage of more than 200 nurses, 170 paramedics, hundreds of teaching faculty members and consultants, says the official.

SZH spokesperson Dr Ashtar Ali Zaidi told Dawn that the administration had sent requisition in 2019 for approval to fill an upward of 500 posts of teaching cadre doctors to the federal health ministry. The ministry had only allowed hiring of 60 nurses on an emergency basis, he said.

The hospital administration, he said, was still trying to run the institution within available financial and human resources.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2021

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