A bunch of students rushed to the site of the 1987 bomb blasts at the Bohri Bazaar to help, only to be frustrated by the limited capacity of the Civil hospital's emergency ward. It was then that they decided to collect funds and expand the casualty department, and so they did.
The young medical students, Dr Abdul Bari and Dr S Zafar Zaidi, along with architecture student Tariq Qaiser and engineering student Adnan Asdar vowed to establish a free-of-charge hospital. Their dream came true exactly 20 years later when the Indus Hospital was established in 2007.
Expansion through donation
Today, the hospital treats 1,500 patients every day for free and aspires to expand to a 1500-bed hospital; sprawling across 21 acres of land and ready to undergo a Rs5 billion-reconstruction.
The hospital runs two separate accounts; the first is based on Zakat and the second on other forms of donations. "Patients are asked whether they are okay with being treated with Zakat money," said Dr Zaidi, while talking to The Express Tribune.
The hospital's monthly expenditure is Rs8 million, which is covered entirely by donations given to them. As much as 85 per cent of these donations are given by the people of Karachi. "We apply for grants from international agencies but our biggest source is the general public," he said.
Some of the donors want credit for their donations, while others send donations anonymously. "We use the name of the donors that want us to do so but we will not change the name of the hospital to the name of a donor, nor will we sell it."
Location and patients
Almost 2.5 million people live in the adjoining areas of Korangi and Landhi and patients arrive at the hospital not only from there but also from the rest of the city and even from outside it.
"We got this land from someone who wanted to make a hospital but it was not running smoothly so we bought it from them," revealed Dr Zaidi.
The management decided against having a maternity facility since that would have consumed a lot of the resources and therefore had a high opportunity cost.
There are around 47 junior doctors and around 80 senior doctors who are paid competitive salaries. "We try to pay competetitive salaries according to the market standards and can afford to do so for most of our doctors, save for the most senior of our consultants, who work for us even though they can receive better salaries," said Dr Zaidi.
Helping the environment
A unique feature of the hospital is that there is no paper system and the hospital prides itself on its 'paperless' environment. "We only have medical record numbers, birth certificates, death certificates and consent forms here, other than that, everything is computerised," said Dr Zaidi. The hospital has its own software that has all the information and is constantly updated, allowing them to run the hospital efficiently without having to rely on the use of paper.
The hospital's management has been asked to run the 100-bed Turkish-owned hospital in Muzaffargarh by the government of Punjab. A 60-bed hospital in Rahimyar Khan has also been given to them by an influential person of the area. A child cancer hospital has also merged with them and will permanently shift to Karachi. "Initially we had to reach out for collaboration, now the government and people know of our work and reach out to us themselves," Dr Zaidi claimed.
The hospital model is inspired by that of the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation but provides a larger variety of treatments. The hospital carries out all expensive treatments that cost a fortune even at public hospitals. "My tests were to cost Rs25,000 at Aga Khan Hospital, I came to Indus Hospital and got it done for free," said Ismail, a resident of Larkana.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2014.