In the premier hospitals of Srinagar attendants of patients are forced to spend harsh and cold nights out in the open or in the corridors as the Sarais meant for them are either insufficient, in a dilapidated condition or non-existent.
At Bone and Joint Hospital, Sajida Begum from Banihal lies down in a stinky corridor outside a ward in the ground floor, a child latched on to her.
Begum’s mother is admitted in the hospital for a broken hip since two weeks. Around her, men and women, whose family members are admitted at the hospital, lay their plastic mats in a line and settle down for the night, blankets over their faces.
Doctors say patients in this hospital are usually there for long stays.
“They (attendants) have no option but to stay on hospital floors,” a doctor said.
At Lal Ded Hospital for women, Sara Begum from remote Tangdar spends hours on a bench in a corridor, a newborn under her pheran. Her daughter has given birth but there is no space for the newborn on the bed she shares with another new mother.
A five-floor Sarai is visible from where Sara sits. However, a decade after its construction was started it is yet to be thrown open for attendants.
From across Kashmir, attendants of women admitted at this maternity hospital have no option other than renting a room in the vicinity or look for a space in the corridors at night to rest and eat.
Hospital administration holds “various shortcomings” in the construction responsible for delay in making the Sarai building operational.
Medical superintendent of the hospital, Dr Shabir Siddiqi said “the approach road to the Sarai is currently encroached up on due to construction of a sewage treatment plant”, and hoped the remaining work is completed “within two months”.
“As soon as it is complete, we would open it for attendants,” Dr Siddiqi said.
A doctor at the hospital said as temperature dips, it becomes dangerous for the newborns to be carried outside.
“We need mothers and babies to be in a comfortable setting, but nothing is being done in that direction,” he said, wishing anonymity.
At Bone and Joint Hospital, there was never a Sarai, nor has one been planned yet, a source at the hospital said.
Medical superintendent, Dr Abdul Rasheed Buddoo said a proposal for construction of a Sarai is part of a “new project”.
“Once the construction of new buildings starts, we would have space for Sarai as well,” Dr Buddoo said.
At GB Pant Children Hospital too there is no Sarai, nor even a park or a lawn for attendants.
A doctor at the hospital said that the hospital corridors are so narrow that once a person lies down at night in the space, passersby often accidentally step on them.
Medical superintendent of this children’s hospital, Dr Kanwaljeet Singh said a “makeshift shed” in the back lawn of the hospital was erected so that attendants could at least eat in a closed space.
“We have written to Cantonment Board that has a part control of the hospital to give us land for constructing a Sarai,” Dr Singh said.
“We are hopeful, something will come up.”
At SMHS Hospital, a dilapidated Sarai is available to patients while at SKIMS, a new patient Sarai was started this year.