Swine flu patient ‘dying’ without a ventilator at SMHS

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Photo for representational purpose only.

Srinagar, Jan 11: A swine flu patient inside an isolation ward at Srinagar’s SMHS hospital was Thursday struggling for life for want of a ventilator even as a fully equipped ward meant for similar influenza cases is lying unused for a year without any medical staff to run it.

Reflecting the callous and unacceptably sorry state of affairs, an H1N1 positive patient is unable to get a ventilator anywhere in the two hospitals of the Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar “equipped” with isolation wards, even as his condition continues to deteriorate.

At SMHS Hospital, authorities have isolated a four-bedded ward for H1N1 and other influenza cases where three patients were admitted on Thursday. Two of them were in a critical state and battling for life, a doctor said.

The doctor said the isolation ward can manage “just isolation” without any life-support machines, which are often needed for critically sick influenza patients.

The absence of ventilators was proving costly for the critically sick swine flu patients, the doctor said.

“They are dying. Their life perhaps could be saved if they had ventilator support well in time,” the doctor said, adding a patient’s relatives were running from pillar to post for three days in a bid to save her life.

She had been kept on an Ambu Bag, a basic device used to assist breathing, for three days and was shifted to a medical ICU ventilator only when it fell vacant on Thursday evening.

“However, another patient,” another doctor said, “is still without any life support despite clear indication.”

A four-bedded isolation ward equipped with ventilators and other critical equipment has been ready since a year at the Chest Diseases Hospital in the city under GMC Srinagar. But it has not been made operational.

An official at GMC Srinagar said this ICU, meant for H1N1 and other influenza patients, was not functional because no staff has been allocated by GMC Srinagar to run it.

“That ICU (at CD Hospital) could have saved lives of these patients if it was operational,” the official said.
According to the source, although CD Hospital could arrange doctors for the ICU, but it required GMC to post staff from its department of anesthesia to run the critical care facility. The administration has not even bothered to post nurses, technicians or other staff to run the unit.

The ICU and a laboratory meant for influenza patients was set up at a cost of Rs 5.63 crore in 2015 when scores died due to N1H1 infection.

Principal GMC Srinagar, Prof Samia Rashid acknowledged the CD Hospital ICU for H1N1 cases could not be made functional for paucity of staff.

“When that facility was commissioned, no simultaneous staff creation was made to run it,” Prof Rashid said, adding it would be made functional from “coming Monday (January 14)” by arranging staff internally.