… that is if everything goes to plan 

Lhakpa Quendren

The national referral hospital (JDWNRH) would shift its dental department to a facility that the government bought at Taba last year, by May this year should everything go as planned. 

The remodelling work of Nu 7.6 million has been awarded to the National Housing Development Corporation.

A JDWNRH official said that works are ongoing. “There would be some delay but we are pushing forward.”

While work is underway to shift the dental department of the JDWNRH to Taba Covid-19 hospital, some dental professionals express their disagreement to the decision.

The move, according to them, is technically not a good idea until full remodelling work is complete since the structure at Taba was not planned and designed for the purpose of hospital setup.

A source from the hospital said that the structure at Taba is a residential building that would incur additional budgets for major remodelling works. 

“The structure is unsuitable for setting up a dental hospital and a lot needs to be done. If all dental-related services are to be established and full remodelling is done, there would not be a problem,” said the dentist.

However, the government is not able to fully take up the remodelling works for the hospital structure because of a lack of budget, the source said.

Human resource constraints, and inconvenience to patients, among others, are the reasons some employees of the department are skeptical of the move. 

For an effective operation of the dental hospital, it should be equipped with an operation theatre for head and neck trauma surgery, and a biomedical engineering department for the proper functioning of dental chairs and machines.

The hospital should have additional manpower for human resource and finance offices as some services are charged, they said. 

Another source said that it will cause inconvenience to patients, especially for interdepartmental referrals. “Some patients need cross-consultations,” said the dentist, adding that there are also no wards and teams to manage medical emergencies.

While a few agree that there are many difficulties both for the patients and dental staff, they said, the establishment is a part of service expansion for the future. 

It is also going to cause some inconveniences to the students of diploma in dental hygiene and dental technology at the Faculty of Nursing and Public Health (FNPH) in Thimphu.

A student of FNPH said that it will be more expensive for the students as they have to travel from the college campus to Taba. “We have to go to the hospital on a daily basis.”

However, a senior official from the JDWNRH said that the government has already decided to shift, and there is no negotiation. “We have to accept some inconveniences in the beginning but it will be solved as we move on.”

“If we are looking at some small personal cases, we don’t reap the benefits of bigger advantage that we will be having. Many of them share individual issues such as long travel distances. How can the government policy be accommodative?” he said.

The government in April last year acquired a private structure at Taba for the establishment of a Covid-19 hospital at Nu 203.9 million during the outbreak of the omicron variant.