Dilip Sharma & Tasüngtetla Zeruiah Longkumer
DIMAPUR, MAY 16: The unprecedented surge in COVID-19 positive cases at Dimapur has once again brought to the fore the poor state of healthcare facilities in the State. COVID positive persons are currently running from hospital to hospital in search of beds but in vain, as all reserved beds in the designated COVID Hospital (Dimapur District Hospital) and CIHSR have been occupied.
Ironically, a fully equipped COVID Care facility in Dimapur with at least 160 beds is lying unoccupied since May 3 last, while Government officials are looking for space to construct a 100-bed hospital within 10 days in a Government-run facility in Dimapur.
As published in local dailies on May 3, the Northeast Frontier Railways has deployed 10 COVID Care Isolation Coaches at Dimapur Railway Station on the request of Nagaland Chief Secretary, J Alam, on an urgent basis, when the State was witnessing a rapid surge in COVID-19 positive cases. Each coach is equipped with 16 beds and medical facilities such as provisions for oxygen cylinders, and all necessary arrangements for hygiene have been made.
When Nagaland Page visited the Railway Station to take stock of the COVID Care facility, it was found that the 10 Coaches stationed at Platform No. 3 are yet to be occupied by any patient till date.
People at the Railway Station confirmed that no patients have been shifted to the Railway Coaches till date.
Speaking to Nagaland Page, a Medical official of the Department of Railways said that there are a total of 160 beds (16 beds per coach), equipped with all facilities, including oxygen cylinders to provide treatment to
COVID-19 positive patients who are sent for isolation. However, he said the human resource to manage the COVID Care Coaches should be provided by Nagaland Government.
When asked whether any COVID-19 positive person has been isolated in these Coaches, the health official said the Coaches have not been taken over by Nagaland Government till date.
It may be mentioned that the 10 COVID Care Coaches have been stationed at Platform No. 3 of Dimapur Railway Station since May 2. In the last two weeks, even the Reception Desk, supposed to be manned by State Health Department officials, to keep records of admitted and discharged patients has not been activated.
As reported by the local dallies on May 17, due to ‘exhaustion’ of beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients at private and Government hospitals in Dimapur, the bureaucrat in-charge of COVID management in Dimapur, Y Kikheto Sema had directed district authorities to make a new 100-bed COVID hospital functional within 10 days.
While it is a much welcomed directive, it must be asked why the 160 functional beds provided by the Northeast Frontier Railways are not being utilised, and whether the 100-bed COVID hospital will fall into the same disuse. Further, it may be asked who will manage this proposed hospital as shortage of Doctors and other health workers has been reported. It may be recalled that on May 8 last, the State Health Department had directed the other 10 districts to spare 1 Doctor, 2 Nurses and 1 Lab Technician each for Dimapur and Kohima, especially for the former.
It also raises the question whether the in-charge of COVID management in Dimapur, on his ‘tours’ of Government facilities to identify a makeshift COVID hospital, is aware of the existence of 160 functional beds lying vacant at a stone’s throw away from the Dimapur District Hospital.
On the evening of May 15, upon enquiry by Nagaland Page whether a Government facility has been identified for the 100-bed COVID hospital, Y Kikheto Sema responded in the negative stating, “We have options. Visited few places.”
While the already overburdened district authorities scramble to identify and create a 100-bed COVID hospital from scratch within the timeframe of 10 days, there is already a functional facility only lacking manpower.
As put by the Railways health official, “The Railways have provided what has been asked for, and now the Nagaland Government has to make use of it.”
Till the filing of this report, calls made to CMO and DC, Dimapur, went unanswered.
(Page News Service)