LAHORE: After the fire at Services Hospital on Thursday, the Health Department has written to the medical superintendents (MS) of public sector hospitals in Punjab asking them to review their electricity arrangements, The Express Tribune has learnt.
The MSs have been asked to submit a report regarding electricity arrangements to the Health Department within three days. An official of the Health Department said, “We need to get an overall idea regarding the status of electric systems and wires at public hospitals.”
“The letter asked us to submit details about our wiring setup and the electricity system. The report has to be submitted within three days,” the MS of a public hospital in Lahore said. He said the report would list how electricity was supplied through the various connections and the precautions taken to avoid any short circuiting would also be spelled out. “Generally, there isn’t any leakage of gas and electricity wires are not naked at hospitals. But if there is any such thing then it will be mentioned in the report,” he said.
While the Health Department has asked the MSs to submit their reports, officials said that there was no Maintenance and Repair Works Department at teaching hospitals. “Medical institutions were given autonomy after the Autonomous Act of 2003. There isn’t any proper arrangement for repair and maintenance at public teaching hospitals. Earlier, there used to be officials of Communication and Works (C&W) Department at these hospitals to take care of maintenance work. Now the hospitals have to hire electricians, often on daily wages. They are not engineers and cannot take care of the short circuiting or wiring system on a large scale. There should be a proper Maintenance and Repair Department at hospitals so that incidents of fire eruption and short circuiting can be avoided,” another MS told the Tribune.
He said a Maintenance and Repair Department was overseen by officials of the Communication and Works Department at the Lahore High Court and the Police Department’s buildings. “At hospitals, C&W Department used to hire engineers and electricians on contracts. Now there are no C&W officials deputed at hospitals,” he added.
Special Secretary Daood Bareach confirmed that the Health Department had written such a letter to the MSs of public hospitals. When asked whether there was any plan to establish a Maintenance and Repair Department at public hospitals, he said currently there was no such plan, adding that teaching hospitals in Lahore had their own relatively large infrastructure.
Infants at Services Hospital
Dr Saleem Cheema, speaking on behalf of Services Hospital, told The Express Tribune that all the infants shifted into emergency on Thursday were now stable. “All 17 are stable and doing well,” he said. He added that seven infants had lost their lives in the fire, adding that an inquiry into the incident was underway.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 9th, 2012.