All is not well at Naga Hospital Authority Kohima
Kohima, July 15 (EMN): Nagaland Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK) has been serving the people, not only from Kohima district but the whole of the state, especially those from rural areas who cannot afford to go to private clinics and hospitals for treatment.
However, it is very unfortunate that the doctor in charge of ICU NHAK has been alleged of being irresponsible and arrogant by taxing patients of exorbitant charges and also detaining patients at ICU against their wishes.
The doctor’s highhandedness is said to have created an unpleasant working atmosphere among the hospital staffs and seniors alike.Accordingly, the local governing body of the hospital – members comprising of health minister, MD NHAK, MPs, additional chief secretary, medical secretary, medical director and prominent citizens –in its meeting held on October 13, 2016, had decided that the functioning of ICU at NHAK should be centralised, which means that ICU billing would be incorporated in the Central Billing System with effect from May 27, 2017.
The same information was intimated to all the doctors, appended by 11 eleven doctors and the doctor in question, Deputy Director, Dr Sendimeren Aonok, in-charge of ICU NHAK on May 15, 2017, a copy of which was made available to Eastern Mirror.
The same copy has been forwarded to the principal director of health and family welfare and Commissioner and Secretary of health and family welfare. According to a highly placed source at NHAK, Dr Aonok is refusing to abide by the decision of the governing body and continues to run ‘his own business inside the ICU as though it is his private clinic.’
The source told this reporter that these discrepancies and misdeeds by the doctor have been going on for a year or so with no one daring to question him. The doctor, it alleged, is doing his private business by bringing medicines and issuing cash memos to the patients from inside the ICU, whereby the hospital is selling medicines at ‘Save a life’ pharmacy at cheaper rates.
It alleged that Dr Aonok was bringing oxygen ventilator machine through his own source charging exorbitant prices, whereby the hospital authority has arranged the same which has been checked by the service engineer in the presence of head clerk, MS and others, and charge at nominal price of Rs 500.
He is also accused of issuing cash memos randomly and not allowing to hospital authorities to ‘look into the details’. “He is functioning (the ICU) as his private clinic. When the governing body has taken the decision to centralise the functioning of the ICU, who is he to not comply with the order?”, the source questioned.
Trapped in ‘catch 22 situation’
Denying the allegations hurled against him, senior grade specialist, Dr Sendimeren Aonok who is the head of department of the Critical Care NHAK for the last ten years said he is caught in a ‘catch 22 situation’, sandwiched between the instructions of the government and the hospital authority.
Dr Aonok said the ICU NHAK was started with grant-in-aid from North Eastern Council (NEC) Shillong, and though it may be a governmental venture, the critical care department NHAK has been functioning as a ‘self-generating’ unit since its inception in 2007. This was done with full approval of the governing board of NHAK.
It was learned the combined salary of the staff in the ICU comes to an amount of Rs 10,10,500 which is paid out of the income generated to about Rs 12,55,047 per month and financial assistance of about Rs 2,86,304 from NHRM. The remaining money is used for maintenance and procurement of equipments.
While stating that he is not against the centralised billing system, he said the decision should not be taken in haste without properly formulating proper guidelines and policies.
In response to the meeting of the governing board decision, Dr Aonok has written to the Department of H&FW dated May 10, 2017 requesting the authority to study and formulate an appropriate financial system to enable a smooth transition of the staff, as well as the future of the critical care department.
Subsequently, in a meeting called by the Director & HoD (NHM) on May 24, it has proposed to request the Principal Secretary H&FW to convene a meeting of the Hospital Management Committee to discuss the relevant issues at NHAK, and till such time the functioning of the NHAK may maintain ‘status quo’.
An application along with the meeting minutes (made available to Eastern Mirror) was sent to the Principal Secretary H&FW dated May 25, 2017 requesting the government for further necessary action.
“I stand for what is right”, strongly asserted Dr Aonok, who expressed concern that besides other problems that may arise, the 64 contract staff in the ICU will be badly affected and there will be no transparency and accountability of funds, if centralisation is done without a proper formulated system.
On the accusation that oxygen ventilator machines are being supplied by him, he said the machines arranged by the hospital authority at cheaper rates lacks in purity, content, pressure etc which needs to be tested. He informed that his supplier is a very reliable who supplies oxygen for the entire north east region.
Contradicting the accusations against him, Dr Aonok said the pharmacy in the hospital does not give any discount to the patients, and therefore, keeping in mind the welfare of the patients in the ICU, he has arranged medicines at 15-20% discount with the dealers, particularly for patients in the ICU.
Dr Aonok said this unfortunate issue is affecting the staff in the ICU, and also the daily accusations, allegations and harassments made against him are affecting him in his work. He expressed hope that the issue will be resolved soon keeping in mind the welfare of the staff and the patients.
Meanwhile when contacted a top official at the directorate, on condition of anonymity, said the contention is to merge the ICU with the main billing system. The official also expressed concerned that if the whole thing goes into the main pool without safeguarding the salary of the contractual staff, there will be unforeseen problems.