PESHAWAR - Since the start of COVID-19 pan­demic in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in February this year, the Lady Read­ing Hospital (LRH) of colonial era in Peshawar has been entertaining the influx of coronavirus patients from mountainous Chitral district to DI Khan in South.

The hospital was named after the wife of British Viceroy Lord Reading in 1927. She was very fond of Peshawar city and liked its view from the historic fort Qila Balahisar (Fort Balahisar). Once during a visit to Peshawar, she fell from the horse and got injuries while taking a round of the city and she was taken to Agerton Hos­pital for treatment but due to lake of medical facilities she was shift­ed to Royal Military Hospital (Now Combined Military Hospital).

After few years in 1927, she vis­ited Peshawar again and expressed her desire to upgrade Agerton Hospital and donated rupees Rs. 52000 for the hospital. The Ager­ton Hospital was later renamed as Lady Reading Hospital (LRH).

The LRH is well known across the province as well as the country due to best health services being provided to patients by expert doc­tors in many specialities including the fatal coronavirus now a days.

The LRH came under enormous pressure of the suspected coro­navirus patients during last three months seeking early diagnoses and treatment, but its computer­ized healthcare system, treatment and medical facilities remained unmatched during the pandemic.

As a result, many of the corona­virus affected patients returned homes upon full recovery from the disease due to unprecedented services of its doctors and other health professionals during COV­ID-19 crisis.

The KP’s premier hospital re­mained a center of hope for thou­sands of patients in very crisis whether it was 2005 earthquake, war against terror, coronavirus pandemic and has never disap­pointed the masses.

Patients from all the thirty five (35) districts of Khyber Pakh­tunkhwa including seven merged tribal districts and even from Af­ghanistan are utilizing its servic­es due to significant improvement in its healthcare system, strength­ening of infrastructure and medi­cal, dignostic and surgical servic­es that turned around during last seven years in the KP province.

The government of PTI has spent billions of rupees on health care system of the province be­sides upgradation of medical facil­ities including construction of new wards, upgradation of testing labs, installation of modern health ma­chinery, introduction of comput­erised health care system at LRH.

“In every crisis, there was an op­portunity. “Today, we can build on what PTI’s work of the last few years, & take KP’s healthcare sys­tem to the next level,” said Taimur Salim Jhagra, Provincial Minister for Health.

A COVID-19 test laboratory was also being established in hospital where a high dependency unit and two ICUs for critical patients of the virus, have been already estab­lished. A telemedicine service has been launched at hospital where coronavirus suspects were being provided free consultation servic­es by specialist doctors.

After coming into power in 2013, PTI Government accorded top priority to revamp the outdat­ed healthcare system by introduc­ing scores of reforms and projects in hospitals to provide quality and affordable health services to all.

For the first time in the histo­ry of the province, full autonomy with complete authority in pro­motions, recruitments, equipment and accountability for physicians was ensured.

Prior to 2013, there was no au­tonomy and all recruitments, promotions, equipment and up­lift programmes were decided by non-expert bureaucrats and pol­iticians, official sources in Health Department told APP.

The PTI government has intro­duced bylaws under which work­ing hours in public sector hospi­tals including LRH were aligned with modern practice that im­proved health delivery system and efficiency of the staff manifolds.

During past regimes, medical professionals were forced to per­form long hours duties without fi­nancial incentives while doctors were allowed to serve only for five hours which created sense of deprivation among junior doctors, nurses, paramedics and thus its overall health delivery system has been badly affected.

To break the nexus of doctors and commission agents in phar­maceutical, medicines, laborato­ry, surgical companies, the PTI govt has institutionalized private practice (IPP) within public sec­tor hospitals including LRH where private patients are being treated by senior consultants on afforda­ble fee as compared to Dabgari Gardens, a hub of private med­ical practitioners and laborato­ries which was a source of minting money from poor patients in the name of quality treatment.

As LRH has set a unique exam­ple for medical teaching institu­tions (MTI) in KP, PTI Government has strengthened its medical fac­ulty by recruiting record 150 phy­sicians on merit in one year, which is more than all recruitments in previous 15 years to cope with the massive challenge of COV­ID-19. Similarly, 800 new nurses were recruited, raising its current strength to 1050.

Medical equipments worth bil­lion of rupees were purchased for LRH during the last four years and hospital services were com­puterized.

The 300-bed building remained pending since 2011 at LRH due to lackluster approach of past govern­ments and its non-completion exert­ed extra load on other departments due to coronavirus pandemic.

Accepting the challenge, the PTI government has operationalized a brand new 400 bedded building by equipping it with latest equip­ment worth Rs. 2.26 billion, 24 state-of-the-art operating suites, intensive care units and developed other new programmes including biometric services.

First modern accident and emer­gency department with recruit­ment of four British trained emer­gency physicians has now become part of accident and emergency department in KP.

KP’s first ever Interventional Radiology (IR) programme with services of consultants radiolo­gists with equipment worth Rs. 100 million was setup besides es­tablishment of new rheumatolo­gy programme and that free med­icines to all indoor patients were being ensured.

Keeping in view of enormous dif­ficulties of persons with disabili­ties, first modern Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Medicine De­partment were established in KP.

All gates of the hospital, which were used as thoroughfare, with dogs and cats roaming freely in the past, have now been fully se­cured through deployment of se­curity staff 24/7.

Above all, doctors, nurses and paramedics are rendering un­matched services for COVID-19 patients at LRH. Today, all major hospitals including LRH were pro­viding best healthcare services to people of KP during the coronavi­rous pandemic and confidence of masses was restored.