There are just four ventilators available in the 12-bedded COVID-19 designated hospital in the Budgam district which is, according to a decade-old census, home to nearly a million residents and three thousand active cases of infections.
According to Muzaffar Sherwani, the new medical superintendent of the District Hospital Budgam, who took over the charge from Farooq Dhobi just days ago, there are four high-end ventilators and one transport ventilator available.
However, all ventilators are currently non-operational as the District Hospital infrastructure hasn’t been upgraded since the outbreak of the pandemic. “They are not operational at the moment,” said Sherwani. “There is no ICU setup at the moment in the district hospital or the blocks. It is in Chanapora but that pertains to Srinagar.”
The lack of ventilators in Kashmir’s peripheral hospitals has led to increased referrals of patients to hospitals in Srinagar, which accounts for a majority of Kashmir’s COVID-19 patients. Already, the five Covid dedicated hospitals in Srinagar which have ICU facilities have run out of beds as the city hosts more than 10,000 active cases of infection.
Ventilators help patients with severe disease progression breathe but chances of survival are still low, doctors say. In most cases where patients are unable to breathe, a high-flow nasal cannula is essential to ensure breathing. In Budgam’s COVID-19 care facility, said Sherwani, “there should be twelve devices for the twelve beds.”
There are 2,863 active cases of COVID-19 in the district while 136 have died since the outbreak of the pandemic as on 7 May. As per the 2011 census, the Budgam district has a population of 753,745 residents.