PESHAWAR: The coronavirus pandemic has been proving a blessing in disguise for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to upgrade its health facilities for the future needs of critically ill patients.
According to officials, the province had 400 ventilators before the outbreak of Covid-19 but only 100 of them were used by the medical teaching institutions of Peshawar and Abbottabad.
However, they all have been made functional and relevant staff members have been trained by the Pakistan Army at the combined military hospitals to operate breathing machines.
The officials said around 300 ventilators were purchased by the health department years ago but they remained packed and weren’t used.
They, however, said the outbreak of coronavirus prompted the authorities to unpack them and install them in hospitals to cater for the needs of patients requiring mechanical ventilation.
Officials say initiative to cater for future needs of critically ill patients
The officials said those ventilators were being installed in 14 district headquarters hospitals, which would be provided with central oxygenation system for Covid-19 patients next month.
They said those facilities would be available to general patients after the Covid-19 pandemic was over.
“This is a blessing in disguise for the health department to develop hospitals for the better treatment of patients in DHQ hospitals. The upgradation of district hospitals has long been needed to reduce patient flow from districts to Peshawar’s teaching hospitals,” an official told Dawn.
According to him, the department is using the pandemic as an opportunity to equip district hospitals to benefit non-coronavirus patients.
Also, every DHQ hospital will get 50 beds with facilities for the patients needing hospitalisation in high dependency and intensive care units.
Officials said the district hospital in Swat, which recorded the most Covid-19 incidence in the province after Peshawar, provided virus patients with oxygen by cylinders and the contracting firm was unable to meet the demand of patients.
They, however, said the hospital currently had a central oxygen system.
The officials said central oxygen plants had also been installed in Mardan, Mansehra and Abbottabad hospitals, where staff members had to refill oxygen cylinders thrice a day.
They said the health department had added 50 ICU beds to each of Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital, Khyber Teaching Hospital and Hayatabad Medical Complex during the Covid-19 crisis that would improve critical care services in the long term.
The officials said the buildings of the Institute of Hepatology Nishtarabad and Peshawar Institute of Cardiology, Hayatabad, were put up two years ago but they couldn’t be used forcing hepatitis and heart patients to get treatment in general hospitals.
They, however, said the pandemic had prompted the health department to open the Institute of Hepatology and set up a 58 beds Covid-19 hospital there two days ago, while the conversion of PIC into 210 beds Covid-19 hospital was in progress.
“These two institutes have come out of hibernation after remaining in limbo for two years. They will used for hepatitis and heart patients once the coronavirus crisis is over,” an official said.
He said the province had the capacity to carry out 40 Covid-19 tests a day in the Public Health Reference Lab at the Khyber Medical University when coronavirus broke out but there were 12 labs, including seven in public sector, with the daily capacity of 3,000 tests.
The official said the labs would ensure speedy diagnosis of all infections, especially in epidemics, and carrying out of other high-tech investigations required by patients.
He said a lot of people had been trained, while the people would be able to get their investigation done in their native districts in future.
Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2020