A medical college in Kashmir, which has admitted nearly 150 Covid-19 patients, is facing a crisis-like situation as the college faculty is accusing the principal of forcing them to conduct surgeries of Covid-19 patients, even when the college does not have the infrastructure to do so.
“We do not even have the basic infrastructure to conduct an occasional Covid-19 surgery,” says a letter written by the faculty of SKIMS Medical College to the Director of Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS).
SKIMS Medical College has 500 undergraduate and post-graduate students and since it was designated as a Covid-19 hospital a month ago, other patients have been removed from the hospital and no follow up is taking place regarding their health. The faculty says since the hospital has been designated as a Covid-19 hospital, they are unable to attend other patients, including operative follow-up patients.
The faculty insists that SKIMS medical college shouldn’t be made a referral point for surgeries of Covid-19 patients. If we start conducting surgeries every day, within three days, the college will have to be shut as there is a high mortality rate among Covid-19 surgeons, the faculty says.
“The SKIMS Medical College has low staff strength. Each Covid-19 referral surgery will be followed by quarantine and likely sickness of a large number of staff members. The department will run out of staff within few days if the dangerous referral model is put into action,” the letter reads.
The letter says that there should be a separate operation theatre for surgeries and doctors should be provided adequate gear. “This should include a negative pressure room for Anaesthesia and a positive pressure room for surgery capable of exchanging theatre air 25 times per hour. The air coming out of theatre has to be treated to prevent dissemination of virus into the air. Simple exhaust fans are super spreaders especially if repeated surgeries are conducted under them,” says the letter, adding that quality of the PPE kits for the operating surgeons has to be supreme as the huge amount of viral load in the operation theatre is likely to cause infection.
With the post-operative figures of Covid-19 cases at 44 per cent, and mortality rate at 20 per cent, doctors said the load in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) would be unimaginable and incomprehensible.
The letter also accuses college Principal Dr. Riyaz Untoo of harassing the faculty and not allowing them into his room.
“Our Principal has refused to listen to us on repeated occasions and harassed many faculty members and even used unparliamentarily language several times. Any algorithm mentions team leadership. Unfortunately, this critical aspect is lacking sorely at this hour of crisis. Vindictiveness under such circumstances, which you are witness to, is reprehensible,” the letter states.
Last week, SKIMS Medical College, Bemina terminated the services of a junior resident doctor Asif Ali Bhat after he demanded standard personal protection equipment (PPE). However, he was reinstated after Doctors Association, Kashmir put pressure on government. The Director SKIMS was not available for comment in spite of several calls. His media secretary said that the Director is looking into the matter.