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June 30, 2020

LRH unable to play due role in handling coronavirus pandemic


June 30, 2020

PESHAWAR: Being the oldest and the largest public sector hospital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) could not effectively play it’s role to professionally handle the corona pandemic.

“The LRH has the largest number of faculty, specialities as well as beds than any other public sector hospital in the province. The provincial government should carry out its audit and see what services it had provided during the coronavirus pandemic,” said one faculty member”.

The hospital consumes a huge chunk of public resources and the KP government had a lot of expectations from it after the outbreak of the viral infection and declared it as the main health facility to look after the Covid-19 patients.

“In corona failure, the dean removed MD, chairman of medicine and allied specialities but it is the total failure of dean and Dr Nausherwan Burki.... can someone even dare to remove them,” said the faculty member.

The way critical patients were handled in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital, was enough proof of the quality of services offered to patients in this mega health facility. Let alone other deficiencies of this important hospital, it was months ago when the provincial government had directed the hospital administration to start investigations of the coronavirus patients on their premises.

But, to date, the hospital administration is yet to initiate any practical work and start coronavirus investigation. Other public sector hospitals, too smaller than the LRH, including the Mardan Medical Complex (MMC) had long started coronavirus investigations from its limited budget and has successfully been providing services to patients of Mardan and its surrounding areas. Patients are no longer needed to wait for days for their swab to be sent to Peshawar or Islamabad. The hard work of Dr Motasaim Billah, head of the Pathology Department in the MMC, and sincere contributions of his colleagues including Medical Director Prof Dr Mukhtar Ali, Hospital Director Dr Tariq Khan and Dean BKMC Prof Mohammad Fazil gave access to the quality of services to the residents of Mardan.

In their struggle against Covid-19, 80 faculty members of MMC, including Prof Dr Mukhtar Ali, Dr Motasaim Billah and Prof Mohammad Fazil, were infected but they successfully recovered.

In KP, the Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC), also smaller than LRH in terms of beds and resources, was the first public sector hospital to start corona investigations from its own resources.

Also, it became the first health facility in the province that initiated the plasma therapy.Since the start of the Covid19pandemic, HHC has been the first priority of almost all the doctors, government officials as well as political elites.

It is stated to be the best example of teamwork. Right from its medical director, Prof Shehzad Akbar to Dean Prof Zahid Aman, Hospital Director Dr Shehzad Faisal and to every faculty member, they owned the institution and sincerely worked as team members.

The role of Prof Mohmmad Noor Wazir and his fellow colleagues in HMC is wildly appreciated since the beginning of Covid-19 pandemic.

In Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH), though the hospital has its own administrative issues, it’s role in the coronavirus pandemic, is satisfactory. It is at least better than LRH and long initiated corona investigations within its premises. Both in the HMC and the KTH, the doctors and other workers are serving without any mental stress.

In LRH, the majority of doctors and their fellow health workers have been complaining of mental stress.

“I served for more than 15 years in LRH but if I get an opportunity to get a job in HMC and KTH, I will not think for while and will go there. It is because of mental stress and job insecurity in LRH,” said the faculty member.

LRH was suffering from administrative disorders when Dr Nausherwan Burki took over its command in 2015 as chairman of the Board of Governors (BoG), after the much-publicised health reforms of the previous Pakistan Tehreek-e-Isnaf government. And since then Dr Burki has been the lone in-charge of LRH. Even the chief minister and the health minister were aware of their limitations and avoided to interfere in genuine issues of LRH, though on some occasions their involvement was needed they stayed away. The reason was they were aware of Dr Burki’s influence. Dr Abdul Lateef is the Dean LRH for quite a long time.

After the recent amendment to the MTI Act 2015, Dean He is the chief executive of the hospital. Medical Director Dr Suleman Khan was recently shown the door and efforts are underway to get rid of Hospital Director Dr Khalid Masud in LRH, but nobody is there to ask Dr Abdul Lateef and Dr Nausherwan Burki for their failures.

“Dr Abdul Lateef has been holding an important responsibility along with Dr Nausherwan Burki. They fired a number of doctors for issues related to the mismanagement. Dr Burki is the chairman BoG LRH and the de facto health minister of KP since 2015, he should also accept some responsibility for his failures,” opined one former Dean LRH. LRH used to host the only cardiac surgery department before the health reforms. The department is almost non-functional for more than two years as there has no surgery. Similar is the case of KP’s largest cardiology department in LRH. The LRH administration has stopped all procedures since the outbreak of the corona pandemic and converted the cardiology block to corona complex. The cardiology department is given a few beds in the gastroenterology department in April 2020. The Cath Lab has been closed since then and almost all emergency patients used to be referred to HMC. The HMC BoG recently raised the issue of unnecessary referrals of routine cases from LRH, which proved a big embarrassment to the LRH administration. Pleading anonymity, he said only five TPM and 1 PDA stenting were done from April till June 2020, which is the emergency life-saving procedure. “Can you take information from HMC, how much their workload has increased along with mortality when patients were referred to HMC from LRH since April 2020,” he said. When reached, an official of LRH argued that they were supposed to initiate the corona investigations, but the PCR machine, which the KP DG Health office was supposed to give to LRH, has provided to the Khyber Medical University.