‘Please Save My Father’: Cries For ICU Beds Grow Louder In Kashmir

Representational Photo

Srinagar: One of the rattling visuals of the second wave of Covid in Kashmir came on the night of April 29 when a video of a young man pleading the SKIMS authorities to shift his father “struggling to breath” to critical ward went viral on social media.

The young man along with his sister cried and begged for help—“Please save my father”—until a social-media storm finally reached the ears of SKIMS officials and patient Mohammad Maqbool Wani of Srinagar’s Baghi Mehtab area was shifted to ICU (Intensive Care Unit) bed.

“ICU bed is basically for complete monitoring of a sick patient. It doesn’t mean only ventilator, it means everything including a ventilator,” Dr Nisarul Hassan, an influenza expert, told Kashmir Observer. “Most of the Covid-19 patients can’t be on regular beds and need complete monitoring which is possible only in ICU.”

However, hours after shifting to the ICU bed, Wani breathed his last.

“He could’ve been saved if shifted to ICU earlier,” Waqar, the deceased person’s son, told Kashmir Observer.

As no ICU was vacant in the hospital that night, some attendants present in the ward said the medical staff was so helpless that “they were literally waiting for any patient on ICU bed to die” so that the deceased man could’ve been shifted there.

“What can we do,” a doctor expressing his helplessness told Kashmir Observer. “We don’t have any beds available at ICU.”

Amid this critical care crisis, Wani’s condition deteriorated and his oxygen level dipped to 40.

“The patient’s condition panicked us all,” said Junaid Ahmad, an attendant whose father was in the same ward.“We requested the authorities and doctors to shift the patient first to ICU. However, there was no response. The patient eventually died at 5:30 AM on April30.”

Patient fighting for his life in ICU. Photo Courtesy, Web.

This incident happened hours after the government claimed that Jammu and Kashmir is one of the best places managing the current Covid situation.

Claiming there was no shortage of lifesaving drugs or medical oxygen in the erstwhile state, advisor Baseer Khan addressed a hurriedly-conveyed presser late evening on April 29: “The projection that Covid management system has been weak is totally wrong.”

There’re 1600 ICU beds for Covid-19 patients across 20 hospitals in the valley, PK Pole, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, said. “We need 3.26 crore LPM oxygen for these beds while we have a surplus availability of 5.43 crore LPM.”

While 111 ventilator beds were available, Pole said, efforts are afoot to increase the oxygen beds in hospitals.

However, family members of Covid-19 patients admitted in different Kashmir hospitals are increasingly taking to social media to seek help and highlight the shortage of ICU beds.

“My dearest maamu passed away after leading a selfless life, being extremely generous only to struggle in his final days for a bed in ICU ward,” said Bismah Malik, a Kashmir journalist.

Amid this growing online outcry for ICUs, the summer capital’s five hospitals—SMHS, SKIMS, CD Hospital, JVC and JLNM—are reportedly running out of ICU beds for critical patients.

According to data accessed by Kashmir Observer, SKIMS had only 8 Covid ICU beds available as on April 30—and all were occupied.

SMHS had 11 Covid ICU beds available—out of which 6 were available.

CD Hospital had 16 beds available—all occupied. While JLNM had 11 beds available—only 4 were vacant.

Covid casualty. KO Photo by Abid Bhat

Since most of these hospitals receive a large number of Covid-19 patients, the hospital management said, they quickly run out of the beds.

“All the ICU beds in our hospital are fully occupied as we’re receiving patients from all across Kashmir,” Dr Farooq Jan, Medical Superintendent of SKIMS, Soura, said.

“The only way to deal with this crisis is to fix the referral set up. We should get only those patients from the districts who have severe conditions.”

But till that happens, Kashmir heading towards the peak viral curve fears more Waqar-like pleadings for their breathless loved ones in the ICU-deficient hospitals of the valley.

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed

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