A visitor stands next to a patient being treated in the visitor’s waiting area of the Rolpa District Hospital in this recent picture. Dinesh Subedi/Republica
ROLPA, Aug 22: Speaker of the Parliament, Krishna Bahadur Mahara and Minister for Energy, Barshaman Pun’s home district have only one hospital - Rolpa District Hospital. However, this hospital, which is the destination for all the poor people of the district, is itself ailing.
In the lack of enough bed and space, the hospital has been forced to treat patients outdoors. Even patients in critical conditions are forced to stay in the hospital’s corridors and porch. Some are seen sitting under the open sky in the hospital ground.
Though the hospital is designated as a 15-bed hospital, it has managed to cramp in a few additional. It has two beds in its dressing room, five in its emergency wards and has managed to fit in 16 beds in its in-patient ward.
“This is a district hospital, but still it is still forced to have 15 beds,” said Kul Bahadur Dangi, in-charge at the emergency ward. “In the emergency ward, there are five beds which remain occupied all the time. We have some more beds in our in-patient ward, but they too are always occupied. The flow of patients to the hospital always remains high,” he added.
During the last one month, the hospital provided service to 2932 patients in its OPD department and provided medical care to 411 patients in its emergency ward. The hospital gets further crowded because of caretakers that accompany the patients.
“Many of our leaders who were raised here don’t see our plight because they go to foreign countries for treatment. They go to USA, Singapore, Bangkok, among others, for treatment. Why would they care about the condition of hospitals meant for people like us?” fumed a patient Prakash Budha in the OPD ward. “Even after the country went Republic, things didn’t change for the public,” he added.
According to Budha, even those who are lucky enough to get a bed at the hospital do not receive treatment in comfort. The crowd, foul smell and lack of doctors and nurses give them a tough time at the hospital. “We come here in the hope of getting well, but the overall environment of the hospital is simply not healthy,” he added.
Budha then stated that he still considers himself lucky as he did not have to stay outside the hospital like many other patients. Having to stay on the hospital ground or balcony would worsen his situation, he said.
“In the open outside, sometimes it rains, sometimes the scorching heat bothers. Inside, you are spared of at least the harsh weather.” Both its OPD, in-hospital and emergency wards are fully crowded with patients and lack doctors and health workers to attend them. According to Dangi, due to the limited number of beds, emergency ward patients are also sent to the in-patient ward.
“We call it the emergency ward because it was named so. Apart from that, there is nothing in it that it is supposed to have. But if you look at the facilities, it has, it simply doesn’t meet the standard. It’s an emergency ward for the namesake,” Dangi remarked. “We do not have the required number of health professionals, including nurses, to offer services during emergencies,” he added.
After the restructuring of the country, it is the local body which directly looks after several departments relating to public affairs and allocates budget for it. However, district hospital is not taken care of by the local authority as it is considered in the domain of the provincial government.
According to Dangi, in terms of physical infrastructure, equipment and human resources, the hospital is just like a small health center. As such, the local body should have looked after it, but because of its district hospital tag, it could not draw the attention of the local government. “And the provincial government has not shown any interest in upgrading the hospital,” he reported.
Former Prime Minister and Co-Chairman of Nepal Communist Party, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, had promised to upgrade the hospital to a 100-bed hospital during his visit here in 2016. To this day, the promise remains unfulfilled. People have no idea whether he is doing anything about it. “We are shocked at the way leaders promise and then forget it. Prachanda had arrived here in a helicopter to attend the Rolpa Mahotsav. And then he promised that this hospital would have 100 beds soon, but till now we don’t have any indications that he is going to deliver on his promise,” said Budha sarcastically.