A double tragedy

Hospital with an agenda and a barber with a mission!

Over the period of time, health and education establishments in private sector have grown rapidly in Kashmir. And with very little exceptions, to a great extent, both sectors have grown for wrong (exploitative) reasons. No one would oppose resourceful and authentic infrastructure development in health and education whether in private or public sector because it relates to the physical and mental health of the society and overall vigorous growth of the nation. But once exploitation and money minting overtakes sincerity and ethics of honest business people are bound to raise fingers. In a place where cinema halls and godowns got converted into health specialty centers and decaying buildings serve as schools, exploiting education and health as lucrative business becomes a routine without any control by monitoring agencies because of the reason better known to them.Interestingly, last week I had a chance to visit a much publicised private hospital in Srinagar claiming to be the leading Heart care center in the city. My prior appointment with a prominent Delhi-based cardiologist lured me to this center otherwise I have several reservations about the genuineness of such hospitals. The learned doctor advised me to go for a stress test—TMT (treadmill test) and for that, you have to have your chest shaved and cleared of all hair growth, so those sticky electrodes can be placed well without bothering the patient at the end of the test. Beyond this as a measure of precaution as envisaged in the principles of cardiovascular management regimen all care is taken regarding any emergency arising during conduct of such stress test and all labs are supposed to be ready with emergency medication and resuscitative mechanisms. So expecting all safety standards in place, I approached the reception cum payment counter who in turn after collecting money directed me to the TMT Lab. In the lab, to my surprise, I was told to visit a nearby barber’s shop to have my chest cleaned of all hairy growth and report back. I politely objected to this unprofessional approach and even approached to the owner of the hospital who happened to be waiting for the lift located outside the TMT Lab. His vague and illogical explanation left no other option for me but to visit the barber’s shop just across the hospital.

At the barber’s shop, it was business as usual, a client was under his scissors listening to barbers monologs. My sudden entry (as I was in ‘medical’ hurry) changed the whole ambiance, compelling the barber to ask me for the purpose of my visit. With very little words I explained to him my referral from the so-called cardiovascular super specialty hospital across the road. He left his client halfway and within no time directed me to pull my shirt up and started to wield his razor. This unethical handling by the hospital management and very quick but less professional approach of seemingly overenthusiastic barber disturbed me a lot. But, martaa kyaa na kartaa, there was no other option but to come under the barber’s knife as my specialist doctor was about to fly back in the afternoon. Anyway, I requested the barber, at least, to change the disposable blade of his razor for which I will be willingly paying him extra money. The barber stopped for a while, stared at me and firmly conveyed with authority, that he is not doing this service for money, it is all free and yes to my satisfaction he will change the blade. After completing the procedure the modest barber advised me to be cool and have faith in God. I got humbled. What a stark difference between owners of two different but equally important establishments, one is fleecing you and the other one doing social service for free!

Cutting a long ordeal short, it was a great experience and this torment exposes the myth behind some of our over-publicised private medical establishments that grow in the shadow of well-equipped but poorly managed public sector hospitals. Hope this will prove an eye-opener for the administration and authorities responsible for monitoring private medical and health trade. The administration should get activated and check these medical establishments (shops to be precise) for their authenticity and quality of service and save the gullible patients from unethical and unprofessional trade practices of such fake specialty centers.