Srinagar: The “mystery woman”, knocked off her two-wheeler in Srinagar some time ago, would probably not have made it if it weren’t for doctors at the premier Sher-i-Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS).
When she was brought to the hospital by passersby, doctors discovered she had a severe head wound. A decision was taken to operate on her immediately, but the communication lockdown in the city after the scrapping of Article 370 meant there was no way to establish her identity and contact her family for the fees.
Instead of losing crucial time, a senior neurosurgeon attending to her decided to purchase the consumables that would be required for the surgery.
The woman, who it turned out was on her way to make a call to her son in Japan when she met with the accident, was saved.
This is not an isolated case. Ever since 5 August, when curfew-like curbs were imposed in Kashmir (marginally eased since) to preclude violence over the Article 370 move that took away the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir, doctors have been routinely, and voluntarily, paying from their own pockets to save patients’ lives.
“All head trauma cases come to us. We can’t let a person die because we cannot communicate with their families,” a senior resident doctor at SKIMS told ThePrint. “Some of us have set up a contingency fund by pooling in money.”
According to another doctor, the attendance at SKIMS has been over 90 per cent since 5 August, even when movement was heavily restricted in the initial aftermath of the scrapping of Article 370.
We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.
Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.
“Some of us have been caught in the middle of stone-pelting on our way to work. But we came to the hospital,” said the second doctor.
Similar stories can be heard at the Sri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital, another big government tertiary care centre located in Srinagar.
A doctor at the SMHS critical care department talked of instances where colleagues had made home visits to check on seriously ill patients who could not come to the hospital because of the restrictions.
“Many among us went beyond our call of duty to attend to patients,” said the doctor.
High stress levels
Doctors in Srinagar’s government hospitals say their job has left them with scars from the constant stress of working in a conflict-torn environment.
“I have handled the aftermath of the violence in 2016 (after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani) when our hospital was flooded with teenage pellet victims,” said a second SMHS doctor. “As doctors, we adapt ourselves to deal with such situations, but somewhere it affects our psyche.”
Many doctors said it would help if they were offered counselling.
“It is raw stress. I know many of my friends who take anti-anxiety drugs,” said a doctor.
Another doctor recalled a panic attack she suffered on the night internet and phone connectivity was snapped.
“I was on night duty when a colleague told me to arrange some food as there could be trouble the next day,” she said.
“I tried calling home but the line did not connect. I tried to check the news on the internet but in vain. I just did not know what was happening around me,” she added. “I ended up taking a pill to calm my nerves.”
News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it
You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.
You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.
We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.
At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.
This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.
If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.