DHARAN, July 11: The outpatient department (OPD) at the BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences (BPKIHS), Dharan has closed from Wednesday due to protests by staffers demanding salary as per a raise announced by the government and by resident doctors demanding security.
The OPD services came to a halt after staffers, who have shunned their duties since Monday, refused to register patients.
The resident doctors also boycotted the OPD from Wednesday, demanding security following the thrashing of a doctor at the pediatric department by a patient´s relatives.
Senior doctors could not provide their services either because of padlocking by the protesting staffers. "The OPD was affected as the doctors alone cannot provide the services without their helpers and other staff," assistant spokesperson of BPKIHS Shyam Lamsal said.
The hospital, which functions as the referral center for the eastern region, attracts over 2,000 patients daily. These patients have been hit hard by the ongoing strike that has taken place despite repeated dialogue between the hospital administration and agitating staffers demanding their salary raise for the past 12 months in a lump sum.
BPKIHS, on its part, has offered to pay the sum in installments, citing financial constraints.
The radiology department and the laboratories have likewise shut down, with the technical staff also involved in the agitations. Patients already admitted have been hit as helpers who assist in transferring patients between departments and in patient care have joined the agitation also.
The maternity department has refused to admit fresh patients because of the protest by resident doctors and serious cases are being referred to other hospitals.
"The very doctors who previously said a child could die if it is denied medical care for even five minutes are now telling us to look for other hospitals," said Mohan Dhakal of Damak-15, whose son born six days ago is in the intensive care unit.
Surendra Yadav of Siraha said doctors referred his wife to Biratnagar after she had writhed in labor at the hospital for 40 hours. "Lahan Hospital referred her to Biratnagar and Koshi Zonal Hospital to BPKIHS. Now they are asking us to take her to Biratnagar again," fumed Yadav.
A staff nurse at the maternity ward said the hospital has been forced to refer serious cases to other hospitals because of the resident doctors´ strike and the consequent risks of death. "We are therefore taking in only ordinary cases after asking the families to assume responsibility for any eventuality," the nurse said.
Meanwhile, Vice-chancellor of BPKIHS Dr Balbhadra Prasad Das left for Kathmandu Wednesday to seek funds to meet the demand of the agitating staffers. "I talked with the heath minister and officials at the Finance Ministry for a budget to pay for the salary raise," Dr Das said over the phone.