LRH may shut Cardiology Dept to accommodate Covid-19 patients

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PESHAWAR: Amid the rising number of Covid-19 patients and subsequent losses, the administration of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s largest public-sector hospital – Lady Reading Hospital – is likely to shut Cardiology Department and Cath lab of the hospital to accommodate the corona patients, officials said on Thursday.

“Though there are other options that can be applied to better serve the Covid patients, the hospital administration wanted to shut the Cardiology Department and particularly Cath lab to adjust the corona patients in the cardiology block,” said an official of the hospital administration. Pleading anonymity, he said the Cardiology Department would be shifted to the new block, though the number of beds would be reduced as well as the city of the department to handle cardiac patients they used to serve previously. This year when the corona pandemic hit Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the government wanted LRH to handle all the Covid-19 patients but it didn’t happen as the hospital administration could not prepare itself for the challenge.

It was LRH where Covid patients were allegedly mishandled, particularly those who needed extra care and shifted to the intensive care unit (ICU). Some of them had lost lives as a result of poor administration as nobody was there to take responsibility, apparently due to lack of proper personal protective equipment (PPEs), masks and other necessary items required for the doctors and health workers to handle critical Covid patients. The Cath lab as well as the Cardiology Department remained close for quite some time, though eight beds were given to them in the new Medical and Allied block. It was a few months ago when the department was shifted to its original place and the services resumed in the Cath lab.

It was breaking news for the cardiac patients when Cath lab was reopened as patients having multiple cardiac issues had anxiously been waiting for the services to be resumed. Dr Malik Faisal Iftikhar, head of Cardiology Department, and his team had played a tremendous role by resuming services in the Cath lab after the corona pandemic this year. They had first provided emergency services to patients in the Cath lab and then opened it to routine patients requiring interventions.

The hospital administration on Thursday held a meeting and wanted to discuss different options to help the Covid patients and some of the officials opposed the idea of closing the cardiology department and Cath lab. They argued that cardiac services were as important as treatment of the corona patients, and if they shut the Cath lab, it would trouble patients suffering from heart disease. If the Cardiology Department was closed, it would deprive the cardiac patients of an 8-bed Coronary Care Unit (CCU) and 38 beds in the cardiology ward. An official of the hospital administration told The News that someone holding a key position had politely opposed the idea of closing the Cardiology Department and Cath lab, suggesting that Covid patients should be treated at the surgical department.

“The Cardiology Department and its Cath lab have been under pressure from a rising number of cardiac patients these days. In case the department is closed and Covid patients are shifted there, it would be difficult for the doctors and paramedics to work in the Cath lab as they might get the disease,” said one faculty member of the department. Most of the hospitals, smaller than LRH, had established laboratories and conducted PCR investigations of corona patients. Also, it is high time for the government to intervene and take interest in affairs of the long-awaited Peshawar Institute of Cardiology (PIC) to open its doors for patients.

The Board of Governors (BoG) of PIC had already hired people for some key positions. Dr Shahkar has been appointed as medical director of PIC and then he has selected a number of doctors for different disciplines. Three hundred beds are meant for the Cardiology Department and cardiac patients in PIC and it becomes the responsibility of Dr Shahkar and his team to utilise PIC for interventions in case cardiology department and Cath lab is closed in LRH.

He can even utilise services of cardiologists of LRH and HMC by calling them to PIC to serve patients there. Meanwhile, officials said that one more patient died and 307 tested positive for the disease in the province on Thursday.

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