If everything goes according to plan, the center will become a proper hospital with all the facilities to cater to people in Barhabise and its surroundings.
Barhabise, April 12: Bir Bahadur Tamang, 49, is a security guard at the local primary health center. He has been ensuring the security of the center for the past six years. But the April 25 earthquake in 2015 shook him like never before.
“It was a terrifying day,” recalls Tamang while speaking to visiting journalists. “The 10-15 bed health center was full of patients then.”
The center, situated off of Barhabise bazaar in Sindhupalchowk, shook so violently that the compound wall collapsed, building started to crumble and fear of a landslide forced the staff there to rush towards the patients to get them to safer locations.
“We literally dragged the patients out in the field and treated them,” Tamang said. “There were only two doctors.”
With the center itself already in an emergency, hundreds of those injured in the earthquake started to pour in for treatment, putting even more stress on the facility. “Most of those injured had head injuries and broken arms and legs, and in addition, there were people injured in the Jure landslide also,” Tamang informed. “That was a very difficult time.”
The center could not run the out-patient department for a month after the earthquake, but soon began the service from a pre-fabricated structure which continued for two years.
Today,Tamang is pleased to see that his primary health center is getting a major facelift. The rebuilding is underway now with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The 10-15 bed health center is being rebuilt to accommodate 25 beds. If everything goes according to plan, it will become a proper hospital with all the facilities to cater to people in Jalbire,Melamchi and Barhabise.
Though the construction of the new buildings are in full swing, at present the center provides only regular services, as it is yet to operate in a full-fledged manner.
The x-ray machine,damaged during the earthquake, is yet to be re-installed and there is a dire lack of doctors and medicine. “We are referring our patients to Bir Hospital in Kathmandu for x-rays,” said Dr. SudeepHumagain, a medical officer working at the center.
Dr. Humagain was busy updating his internet services and attending to in-coming patients. “We have to attend to about 1,200 patients in a month, but we don’t have enough manpower as per the government provision,” the doctor complained. “We have a stock of free medicines as part of the Rapid Emergency Response Team, but that is not enough to treat hundreds of OPD patients.”
Even the annual budget allocated to run the center is just Rs. 400,000, said Dr. Humagain, who has been working at the center for two years. “Now that the center is set to come under the jurisdiction of the local government, the latter will have to look for more resources to upgrade it to 25-bed hospital.”
The primary health center is supposed to run for seven hours a day, according to him. “But,” he said, “We are running 24 hours now. It is really difficult at present, may be until the new building is handed over in May.”