LARKANA: The 623-bed Chandka Medical College Hospital’s city block direly needs smooth and uninterrupted supply of electricity to keep sensitive machines running for carrying out a host of highly important and lifesaving tasks. But the power utility is not entertaining the hospital’s request for ensuring continuous power supply.

The hospital managers said that they had written time and again to the engineers concerned of the Sukkur Electric Supply Company asking them to address the serious issue but they had not yet responded to them.

Dr Habib Soomro, additional medical superintendent of CMCH, said the outage time had been extended to 15 hours a day, which was previously 12 hours, in the hot days when mercury touched 48-49 degrees Celsius in the town.

The outage along with sudden voltage drop and fluctuation had done harm to costly machinery installed in different units and forced postponement of scheduled surgeries at orthopaedics, ophthalmology, ENT, gynaecology and other departments. They were either turned off or carried out under dim lights, said Dr Gul Shaikh, AMS of Sheikh Zayed Hospital for women.

He said that at least five to six caesarean section surgeries had to be postponed every day at this big hospital due to power fluctuation, which occurred frequently in the morning. “We have been appealing for smooth power supply but there is perhaps no one to come to the rescue of patients who are the end sufferers,” he said.

The hospital’s requirement was 2.5 megawatts, which it should be mandatorily supplied through ‘express feeders’ — at least two — so that in case of any problem in one feeder the routine load could easily be shifted to the other, said a biomedical engineer.

Currently, though this hospital had power source from two different feeders, the load was not effectively distributed to keep the machines running, he said.

Under the obtaining conditions, costly machines developed defects and sometimes were damaged. The CT scan, MRI and even X-ray machines in emergency unit did not work properly with poor power supply, he said.

The loadshedding occurred in the morning time when patients from different districts visit the hospital for checkups at outpatient departments. They could not even conduct X-rays, CT scan or other routine examinations either due to loadshedding, fluctuation or low voltage issue, said the hospital managers.

If a dialysis unit develops a fault, patients’ load continues to multiply exacerbating the problem for the administration as well as for the nephrologists, said the biomedical engineer.

Ghulam Rasool Memon, who looked after electricity issues of the hospital, said that majority of the complaints made to Sepco were put on the back burner. The problem could be resolved through shifting the load to Station Feeder and Airport road gird station, he said.

The patients in orthopaedic department suffered the most as their wounds refused to heal in sweltering heat while the patient could not bear soaring temperature in the day and suffocation in the units at night, said the doctors working in orthopaedic unit.

The unit needed uninterrupted power flow to serve patients and save the machinery, he said. Similarly, Prof Dr Ahmed Din Soomro, head of the department of anaesthesia, said that the ventilators could not work properly amid unexpected power failure and low voltage which ultimately put doctors in trouble while patients suffered.

Another major issue connected with the electricity supply is keeping medicines worth millions of rupees at the main store at required temperature to maintain their efficacy.

Recently, a team of WHO visited the store that housed medicines and vaccines and reportedly expressed concern over storing the medicines at higher temperature, said sources privy to the issue.

The hospital’s storekeeper said that they had fridges to keep vaccines and antibiotics at the required temperature but remained tight-lipped about other medicines.

Sepco superintending engineer Muzaffar Khuhawar denied receiving any complaints regarding power fluctuation from the hospital. If he had received any complaints he would have surely addressed them, he claimed.

Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2019