Injured and cured, displaced have nowhere to go

- Manish Gautam, Kathmandu
Injured and cured, displaced have nowhere to go

May 11, 2015-

The wounds on Man Kumari Karki’s left temple are now limited to scars: a sign of healing. The injuries to her left leg and lower abdomen are also getting better. Two weeks in her stay in hospital, Karki remains distraught.

When the Great Earthquake hit on April 25, she was seven months pregnant. In the ensuing aftermath, she lost the child in her womb. Her eight-year-old son too perished in the quake.

Karki, who hails from Fulping Katti-4, Sindhupalchok, was ferried to the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital a day after the Great Quake.

“The doctors have said that they will discharge her soon,” said Mahira Shrestha, Karki’s sister-in-law. “But we don’t know where to take her.”

Their home collapsed in the quake and relief materials have yet to reach their village, said Shrestha. But what worries her most is Karki, who might be healing physically but remains traumatised psychologically.

After her discharge, Karki will need to be brought back to TUTH for follow-ups, but Shrestha and the rest of Karki’s family members do not know they will manage this. “It would be great if we could stay at the hospital a little longer,” said Shrestha.

At TUTH, a majority of the 201 patients from quake-affected districts like Gorkha, Dhading and Sindhupalchok are in a similar state. Many of their homes have been destroyed, so they have nowhere to return to. And neither do they have the means to arrange for alternative accommodations.

Hospital administrators, too, are in a quandary. With so many beds occupied by quake victims on their way to recovery, the hospital’s capacity to treat other patients has been impeded. “We don’t know the government’s rehabilitation plan. Many patients can be discharged but they need to come back for follow-ups,” said Dr Deepak Mahara, TUTH director.

“Since their houses have collapsed and the government has not initiated any plans to take them back home, many prefer to remain at the hospital for as long as possible.”

Many private hospitals are also facing similar problems. At the Kathmandu Medical College (KMC) in Sinamangal, a number of patients are ready for discharge at the orthopaedic ward. But most of them are unsure of how they are going to get back home and then return to Kathmandu periodically for follow-ups.

Dr Shishir Lakhey, disaster management coordinator at the KMC, said that it is time for the hospital to return to normalcy and treat patients who had been sent home due to the earthquake. “Many surgeries are on our backlog and we need to get them done soon,” said Dr Lakhey.    

Community initiatives

With the government continuing to mull over the rehabilitation of injured patients, many community organisations have stepped in. Although small in scale, many such organisations have been visiting hospitals and helping to rehabilitate patients.

Finjo Pasang Lama, 60, of Timpul Ghyangul-6 in Sindhupalchok, is among those currently being rehabilitated. Lama was buried from the waist down by debris from his collapsed house and was evacuated to TUTH by a Nepal Army helicopter. After treatment, he was transferred to The Hope Hermitage Nepal, an NGO in Lazimpat, where Lama will remain for six months.

According to Pramila Bajracharya Thapa, managing director of the Hermitage, they will rehabilitate patients for six months. “We plan to bring in at least 20 people who are above the age of 60,” said Bajracharya. At present, the centre is home to five elderly people injured in the quake.

Similarly, the Nutrition and Rehabilitation Home under the Nepal Youth Foundation in Sunakoti has so far rehabilitated over 70 people. At present, 51 patients remain at the Home. Umesh Regmi of the Foundation said that they provide psychological and nursing care to patients internally displaced by the earthquake.  Patanjali Yogpeeth in Mandikhatar has also been rehabilitating patients. Amar Shrestha of the Yogpeeth said they will provide two square meals and housing for around 40 patients who have lost their home. There are currently seven people recovering at the Yogpeeth.

Governmental efforts

The Ministry of Health and Population is planning to establish a rehabilitation home in Kirtipur, but this plan will take roughly two weeks to get under way, according ministry spokesman Dr Guna Raj Lohani. The ministry’s focus is slowly shifting to rehabilitation from treatment and towards this end, the ministry will be collaborating with Dhulikhel Hospital to establish another rehabilitation centre for patients from Kavre and Sindhupalchok.

Published: 12-05-2015 09:24

User's Feedback

Click here for your comments

Comment via Facebook

Don't have facebook account? Use this form to comment