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How have our safest places become dangerously unsafe?

Although a little too late, JDWNRH President Lhab Dorji and Health Secretary Dr Ugen Dophu coming live on television to condemn anaesthetic technician’s appalling and deplorable conduct at the hospital a week ago was reassuring.

The problem that we have with our system is that when a person is found guilty of a criminal act, we tend to transfer that person some place else. Sometime, reprimanding him or her is enough. If transferring a criminal from one office to another or admonishing him is deemed punishment enough, they are not. The system should not tolerate these kinds of adjustments.

That’s probably why we have repeat sexual offenders and thieves reigning tall and proud in the system.

We are told that measures are taken to ensure patient safety. Health ministry is going to develop Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) and framework for strict compliance by all health workers. It is not that the hospital never had SoPs. It appears that the hospital didn’t give much importance to the procedures.

As the president said, the crime involving the anaesthetic technician may be an isolated incidence in the history of the hospital. But the hospital was threatened with other equally disturbing incidences. In 2016, a man believed to be an alcoholic with criminal records walked into the ward and began assaulting a patient with a stone slab when the attendant had gone to look for a hospital staff for painkillers. The man then knocked down the patient’s wife and her sister, injuring them both and creating mayhem in the room until finally a patient who had undergone a major surgery had to get out of the bed and push the man out of the room. In February 2017, a 22-year-old man walked onto the hospital premises and killed a security guard. Six months later, on August 22, a 60-year-old man from Gorgan in Lhuentse attempted to rape a 23-year-old woman at the hospital’s psychiatric ward. The man was sharing a room with the woman at the ward. When the woman alerted the hospital staff with a cry, two ward officials came and took the woman and her patient to a different room.

According to informal reports, some of which are coming from health professional themselves in the wake of these events, drug tests have become necessary for people working in the health facilities. It is not surprising then that investigation found the technician was abusing drugs. It might be, therefore, prudent for the hospital to employ the system that RCSC has initiated with new civil service recruits, more so in health facilities where drug theft is reportedly rampant.

If these issues are not addressed urgently, health facilities in general and JDWNRH in particular, will have to tackle their image. The incidents as they have come this season have left the people shaken.

How do we make our safe places safe indeed?

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