Tale of choked routes that lead us to Kashmir Hospitals

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Malik Asif Noor

Health sector speaks volumes about the mental evolution of the people and if in any part of the world, this sector is put on the back seat, it has direct bearing on the social development of that land. As a nation we are suffering on every front and life is miserable in this “alcove of saints” and since the fact lies that due to the frequent public uprisings and intermittent mass movements, the health sector happens to be the worst hit.

Now it seems that the State government has decided to add salt to the injury. I think so because I have my personal views for this and evidence to support my opinion. As chairman of an NGO, “WE VOLUNTEERS” I frequently have to visit different hospitals especially at Srinagar to see the people whom our organization is taking care of and look into their admission in the hospital to their medication and other related issues.

In this connection I recently had to see a patient who had been rushed to casualty due to some medical exigency at SMHS Srinagar, a hospital that gives us an insight into the broad vision the people who have established it way back in 1940, with a motive not only to cater to the needs of their times but to be ready for the challenges that would take place far ahead. The colossal structure of the hospital, the expansion of the building demands a sense of respect for the people who had such great thinking.

My ordeal began right at the main entrance that has recently been dislocated and shifted somewhat towards the KAKSARAI CHOWK. I had to wait for some odd 10 minutes to see the traffic cleared at this new entrance and again a same amount of time to find a proper place to park my car.

A thought immediately took me by shock that what would happen if there was an emergency case on my car? The thought send chill down my spine, I had goose-bumps all over my body.

We all know that every single minute counts during such constraints and wasting a score of minutes means fatal risk to the person in trauma. We may lose a precious life at the threshold of such an institution that is actually renowned for saving lives. In fact my distress grew more to see that there are no trolleys or wheelchairs available and the patients need either to be carried on back or dragged by hand to the main entrance of the casualty building of the hospital.

Furthermore, I was snapped off my feet to see that people from outside also park their vehicles in the parking lot of the hospital as it is a safe zone and there is no risk of car-lifters. I actually had a first had experience about it. I saw a luxurious sedan parked behind my car and the man driving it said that he had to attend an important call on a business proposal in some interior of the area and could not park his car at any place for different apprehensions and thus preferred to take the advantage of the “commercial parking lot” at the hospital premises.

Finally, my eyes could not bear the sight of finding the previous gate or the entrance closed off and abandoned completely. This is the gate that was thrown open just a couple of years back and the expenditure in its construction and decoration could be only guessed. An entrance which was exactly in front of the casualty entrance and was an easy and comfortable access to the emergency and was such wide that it could take care of the evermore increasing rush of patients even decades after.

Besides it was erected as a historical monument as it was carved out of the chiseled quarry stones, an age old craft, and a part of heritage and culture of this unfortunate valley. On enquiring I was told that it was called off for reasons unknown and that the architect of the news/present entrance was probably one of the highest rung officers either from the hospital or the associated medical college.

I was immediately reminded of the famous quote, “A bad works man quarrels with his tools!” No doubt the person may be the best in his profession but how come does that justify the assignment of an engineer? The two are poles apart.

The new/present gate is not even the half of the width of the previous one and stands already choked due to the parking of locomotives, scattered everywhere.

Last, but not the least, I make a humble submission to the people at the helm of affairs that if you can’t take away the pains of the sufferings souls, don’t add to them please. It would be more than a humane favour to restore the previous entrance to the casualty section in the hospital while keep the new one as well, since it may serve as an exit so that the trouble for vehicles in general and ambulances in particular is spared. I hope that this plea shall not find a trash-bin as its destiny before it is heeded to.

Author is Chairman of non- government organisation “We Volunteers”