LAHORE: After years of struggle by the cream of surgery against a political will or a lack of it, Surgical Tower in Mayo Hospital has finally seen the light of the day, giving a perfect launch pad to take off not just as a centre for surgical treatment to the patients but also a seat of learning for the future generations of surgeons in the country.
While country’s bureaucracy is akin to red-tape, as is witnessed in the dangling fate of this project in over a decade, until it begins to change in Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education Department a couple of years ago. As soon as a robust leadership took charge of department’s affairs in the form of incumbent Secretary Najam Ahmad Shah, work on the project resumed with new vigour, resulting in fully operationalised “hospital within a hospital”, which sets out a “Disease Trap” much to the relief of patients needing surgical interventions.
The completion of the project could not have been possible without the consistency of some of the passionate surgeons like Project Director Prof Dr Abrar Ashraf Ali, Director Prof Dr Asghar Naqi and their predecessors, who gave their sweat and blood to materialise this project. The completion of Surgical Tower against odds was a Herculean task as the Punjab government lacked the political will. The Punjab government, with none other than Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif calling the shots, put the project on the backburner during its first tenure from 2008 to 2013 and nearly half of its current stint just for the reason that project was a brainchild of the PML-Q government under then chief minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.
According to initial PC-1, Surgical Tower at Mayo Hospital, originally a 521-bed facility with a helipad for air ambulances, lapsed two deadlines. The foundation stone of the tower was laid in 2006 and was to open after two years in 2008, but it couldn’t even meet its second deadline set for 2012.
“Although the building was completed in December last year, but now it has been made operational with fully functional state-of-the-art equipment and trained staff and human resource available round the clock to provide services to the patients without any discrimination,” said Najam Ahmad Shah, Secretary Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education Department, during his visit to the Surgical Tower ahead of its formal inauguration by the Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif this week.
He informed that the cutting-edge technology and modular equipment had been procured, whereas bio-medical engineers had developed equipment locally with same efficiency and yet minimise the expenditures. He said that Central Induction Policy’s dividends had started to realise as 11 anaesthetists had been posted in Surgical Tower. Previously, he said, the doctors were not inclined to join anaesthesia’s specialty, which caused acute paucity of the anaesthetists in hospitals in the province.
Project Director Prof Dr Abrar Ashraf Ali said that Surgical Tower, with a capacity of 385 beds, is one of the important milestones in healthcare delivery system in Punjab, which offers specialised radiological diagnostic facilities to all patients and treatment facilities to surgical and major burn victims.
The Surgical Tower has been established at a cost of Rs2.923 billion, including capital cost of Rs1.101 billion and revenue cost of Rs1.822 billion. Among a total human resource of 1,176 include 293 doctors, 262 nurses and 621 paramedical and other employees at this facility, who will be providing treatment to at least 350 patients on an average on daily basis.
Prof Abrar Ashraf Ali said that radio-diagnostic facilities like MRI, CT scan, digital angiography, Color Doppler, mammography and others are ensured. It will serve as a centre for local and international training and research in all fields of surgery, plastic surgery, radiology, anaesthesia, nursing, paramedics and hospital management systems.
He informed that hygienic modular theatres, HVAC system with HEPA filters, CSSD and laundry and central gas system ensured aseptic atmosphere to the entire tower in order to create infection-free environment for surgical patients.
With the cooperation of Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB), the registration of patients, radiological picture archiving and hospital management system has been ensured through most modern IT-based RIS, PACS and HMIS systems, which provides a paperless operational environment in the facility. “The patients’ history and diagnostic reports can be accessed through a mobile app for the doctors and patients to view and would remain intact in the database for reference in future,” he informed.
The visual surveillance system has been put in place to ensure security. “We have achieved “one-patient, one-attendant” objective through colour coding system, which will help to minimise unnecessary clashes on the premises,” he added.
To a question, Prof Abrar Ashraf Ali informed that the Plastic Surgery Department from Main Emergency’s building had been shifted to the Surgical Tower, whereas the existing Surgical Departments would continue to work as usual, where facilities would be improved to provide maximum quality and efficient treatment services to the poor patients in the country.