LAHORE - Dysfunctional equipment, shortage of healthcare providers, extra burden of patients, lack of free medicine and clinical tests facilities and inadequate space in almost all departments has been affecting the overall service delivery at Jinnah Hospital.

Named after founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Hospital began operations in 1994 with very limited facilities. The Hospital was later formally inaugurated on February 2, 1996, although with only basic specialties. In 2005, it added a new 100 bed Accident and Emergency Department.

At present, Jinnah Hospital is a 1200 bed health facility getting over one million patients annually. The Hospital is one of the biggest health facilities in the province, catering needs of patients from Lahore and its neighboring cities in the south.

Lack of space is causing healthcare providers to treat 2-3 patients on one bed in almost all departments including gynae and pediatrics wards. All the departments are overburdened that id causing doctors to give less time to patients, especially at Out Patients Department (OPD). Shortage of healthcare providers has considerable increased number of patients per doctor, hampering diagnosis and treatment facilities at all departments of Jinnah Hospital. With majority of the patients visiting hospital are from the poor segment of the society, the management is not providing free medicine and laboratory facilities.

“Indoor patients are not given free medicine. This facility is available at Emergency only and that too is not in the access of every patient. If a specific drug is not available at Emergency, the poor are asked to purchase it from the stores outside the hospital. Though the hospital itself purchase such drugs through local purchase, this facility is for influential and protocol patients”, said a doctor working at Emergency, who wanted not to be named.

“Same is the situation with clinical tests. The Hospital laboratory is providing facilities only for basic tests. Advanced tests are referred to the Lab at Allama Iqbal Medical College and that too till at noon. Patients are forced to go to laboratories outside the hospital when doctors suggest tests in the afternoon or at nighttime”, he said, adding, the poor attendants suffer even more than their loved ones getting treatment at the hospital.

“Mismanagement and corruption is at its peak in the gynae ward. Influential paramedics prefer to perform duties at labor rooms to earn easy money.

They don’t allow parents to take newborn without giving handsome amount. Incidents of clash outside labor rooms between parents and money demanding staff is a routine. The management is helpless and influential staff is not ready to perform duty anywhere except labor rooms”, said another doctor working at gynae ward.

Important equipment including ventilators, incubators, ECG machines, Ultrasound, anesthesia machines, and nebulizers are lying dysfunctional for the last one year, causing huge inconvenience to visiting patients. Bureaucratic red-tapism is causing inordinate delay in repair or replacement of out of order equipment, causing healthcare providers to helplessly see suffering and even death of patients.

“One out of two ventilators at pediatrics ward is lying dysfunctional for the last over three years. As a result healthcare providers are regulating breathing manually through ambubagging. Minor error in the exercise can cause life-long complications and even death of newborns,” said Dr Khurram Shahzad, working at pediatrics ward of the hospital.

“Pediatrics emergency and ward is on the third floor of the hospital. Going to the third floor with a child needing emergency attention is a huge inconvenience for the parents. Moreover, it is difficult for those coming for the first time to reach the ward without asking way from employees. This is why we are receiving more patients dead”, said Dr Khurram Shahzad who is also office bearer of Young Doctors Association (YDA) Punjab.

“Pediatrics ward is the only department providing free medicine not only at Emergency but also to Indoors patients. Besides dysfunctional ventilator, lack of space and shortage of necessary equipment including incubators and warmers are major hurdles in providing healthcare facilities to children. The number of patients visiting ward reach 175 in winter and 300 in summer. These are in addition to 150-170 patients visiting OPD daily. At a time, over 100 patients get treatment at the 60 bed ward. We are forced to treat 2-3 patients on one bed. The ward has only six incubators and four warmers. Two to three patients are put on one incubator and warmer. This can transfer infection from one patient to the other which hazardous for their health”, he said.

He said establishment of another unit and that too on the ground floor was essential to improve service delivery. He said that the management was constructing Pediatrics Emergency at the ground floor which would ensure easy access of visiting patients. This however, he said, will hamper service delivery as the same doctors will require performing duties at Emergency on ground floor and ward on third floor.

He said that second unit on the pattern of Ortho, ENT, Gynae and Eye was necessary to ease burden of patients.