Off-hour: Unless Mongar and Gelephu referral hospitals are fully equipped, number of patients visiting the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) for diagnostic service will continue to rise.

In absence of facilities such as endoscopy, Echo, MRI, CT-scan in the two-referral hospitals, JDWNRH is being overwhelmed with increasing number of patients. Today a patient has to wait for over a month to seek an appointment for service such as endoscopy at JDWNRH.

Waiting time for patients for other diagnostic service range between two weeks to a month.

Dr Gosar Pemba, medical superintendent at JDWNRH, said that appointment for endoscopy is delayed because of the kind of service it is required to provide, which is human resource driven.  Although there are about four endoscopic instruments, they need to be sterilised and kept in solutions for at least 30 minutes after using on one patient.

“That way, only about 20 patients can be diagnosed in a day,” he said. “Only if other regional referral hospital are equipped well, then patients at JDWNRH will reduce.”

Dr Gosar Pemba said that quality in service will require time, which means patients have no option than to wait.

Coming up of private diagnostic centres has not helped reduce the patient waiting time. That is because after diagnosis, biopsy (an examination of tissue removed from a living body to discover the presence, cause of a disease) is sent to JDWNRH. The hospital receives at least 300 biopsies in a day.

Last year, 5,087 patients sought endoscopy diagnosis from the hospital, 1,966 did MRI, and CT Scan was conducted for 3,751 patients. Another 16,242 patients sought ultra sound service.

While the number of patients seeking special consultation service or the off-hour clinic (between 4pm-7pm) introduced in 2012 at JDWNRH to decongest OPDs (out patient department) has picked up, it has not helped much in bringing down waiting time for patients.

In 2010, JDWNRH saw 398,303 patients in the OPD, which increased to 454,841 in 2014. Similarly, the number of patients seeking special consultation service increased to 27,397 last year from 22,534 in 2012.

However, certain services like orthopedic, ENT (ear, nose and throat), gynecology, ophthalmology (eye), pediatric and dermatology are not picking up in the off-hour clinic.

Dr Gosar Pemba said that while pediatric, dermatology, ophthalmology and ENT were discontinued, others are being continued despite less number of patients.

“Sometime next week, proposal will be made to the board to introducing echo, endoscopy and biopsy services at the off-hour clinic,” said Dr Gosar Pemba, adding that doing so will reduce waiting time for patients.

In 2012, JDWNRH’s off-hour clinic made Nu 7.91M. The collection increased to Nu 10.26M in 2013. Last year’s collection was Nu 8.17M.

By Nirmala Pokhrel