The country’s booming population and not-so-booming healthcare facilities have seen a drastic rise in the number of hospital admissions per individual hospital. Certain types of diseases, to date, cannot be treated by the health clinics and hospitals in tier 3 and sometimes even tier 2 cities. What happens then? Patients and consequently their relatives are forced to travel to the nearest tier 1 city in search of suitable healthcare. To understand the gravity of the situation, let us take a look at some astounding statistics.
The outpatient department at the All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hospital, New Delhi shows some a tragic situation. One of the many problems plaguing India’s premier public hospital is overcrowding. As many as 10,000 patients reach the hospital’s OPD daily. In the absence of similar speciality hospitals, the super-speciality AIIMS that was meant to be a tertiary care institution has become a primary healthcare centre for patients that throng it from all corners of the country, particularly from the northern states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Bihar. A medical store supervisor said, requesting anonymity, that 75% of cancer deaths at the hospital are because of the long waits. One additional problem is that these 10,000 people bring an additional 10,000 people to look after them. These people then have absolutely nowhere to go.
Hospitals down south face this problem on a larger scale. Reputed hospitals not only draw a national crowd, but also an international one. Manipal hospital in Bangalore saw an astounding 49000 foreign visitors in two years between 2014 and 2016. We go back to the exact same problem again. Where do the visitors stay? They need to be in close enough proximity to cater to the needs of the patient but far enough to stay away from disrupting the normal operations of the hospital. They also need to be available for things like buying medicines from the store and collecting the medical report of the patient, which again, might take anywhere between a few hours and a few days.
If you look at India today, we have 1.6 million beds set up in our hospitals. This average to around 781 people per bed taking into account the country’s population. The situation, however, drastically worsens when it comes to public sector and government hospitals. Today, there is one government hospital bed for every 2,046 people. Considering the fact that the UN states a requirement of 1 bed per 333 people, this is a grave issue.
So why exactly is this so problematic? There are two ways of looking at it. Primarily, our patients aren’t being given the most basic level of healthcare (a bed to lie down on) and as a secondary point, the close relatives of these patients are forced to lie down on the floor.
There is another issue. The number of seriously ill patients admitted to our government hospitals has increased steadily over the last few years, and overcrowding of the wards is now a common scenario. Some of this crowding is a result of the number of patients receiving care, health care professionals providing that care, and often, people visiting patients in the hospital. Overcrowding may affect patients’ symptoms, clinical outcome, and satisfaction. It can also affect a physician’s effectiveness, causing frustration among medical staff. It may even contribute to violence in the wards.
Note that one common stakeholder in both of these problems is the visitors. The solution is definitely not to drive away all the visitors from the hospital. When a member of your family or a close friend is unwell, it is necessary that you go meet them, to instil some kind of faith in them. Also, if it is an elderly person or a kid, they require constant attention and you can’t just expect the nurses to take care of this. This has resulted in people spending several sleepless nights on the hospital floor, miserable because let’s be honest, it is not the happiest of places. This also poses a problem to the hospital staff and the doctors because the visitors might unconsciously get in their way and might disturb the other patients as well
Now that we have deeply explored the problem, it is high time we look at alternatives and solutions. Considering the numerous loopholes that could arise, there appears to be no fix to this problem. However, there is one. What if you could rent a room in a nearby hotel for a short term stay? Don’t worry, there is no catch. You can stay with your beloved ones throughout the day and go to sleep in a comfortable room at night. You could also the room to freshen up midway through the day, bide time when the patient has other visitors. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?