New cardiology hospital: For now at least, RIC to outsource all tests

Due to be launched on Independence Day, the hospital still lacks basic testing facilities.

Mudassir Raja August 13, 2012

RAWALPINDI: Heart patients going to the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology (RIC) will be the ones doing the running around.

The multibillion rupee hospital is on schedule to be completed by August 14, but patients will initially be sent to the Holy Family Hospital (HFH) for tests.

In a letter, the RIC administration asked the HFH Medical Superintendent (MS) to accommodate their patients for medical tests.

But this in itself could be problematic, as most tests at HFH are not being done due to faulty machines or inadequate staff.

Senior doctors and HFH officials say that although the facilities to conduct most tests are technically available at HFH, they are not done properly.

Important tests such as MRIs, angiography, CT scan, PCR, X-rays and lithography tests have rarely been carried out at HFH or Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) for the last three years, said an official.

A senior doctor at HFH said the angiography machine had been unusable for the past four years due to the absence of trained staff. The MRI machines have also been collecting cobwebs for the last five years for the same reason, after being installed for millions of rupees, the doctor added.

He said there were a few basic tests that were being carried out at HFH, but lipid profiles, liver function, renal function and cardiac enzyme tests — tests that patients coming from RIC will need to have done regularly — are not available at HFH.

The Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) itself isn’t much better off. The CT scanner and lithography machines there have been out of order for the last five years due to mechanical faults, a doctor said.

An HFH official felt that instead of overhauling the existing rudimentary testing facilities at Rawalpindi’s three main public hospitals — HFH, BBH and District Headquarter Hospital — the Punjab government had put further pressure on the fragile system.

The step will further undermine existing testing facilities after the load of RIC patients is transferred to HFH, the doctor said.

RIC Medical Superintendent Dr Shoaib Khan said the step had been taken as a “temporary” measure to accommodate patients visiting the cardiac OPD at the new hospital.

Dr Khan said tests samples would be sent to HFH for the first two weeks after the inauguration of RIC, until the hospital hires its own staff and installs the needed machinery for the tests.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2012.