I have been fortunate enough in my life to be unaware of the public as well as private health care system in Pakistan. As my parents belonged to the health care profession, I was always treated at home for minor illnesses. A month back, while baking a birthday cake at a friend’s house, my wrist was badly cut very close to major veins. I am still unable to comprehend how it happened– how a sugar-pot that got dropped from my hand on the marble slab could backflip and cut my wrist so widely and deeply. While exerting pressure on my right wrist with my left hand, my friends and I rushed to the hospital. I asked them to take me to the emergency for stitches. I could see that the cut was beside my veins so I was just grateful that the veins were not slashed. I wanted to go to the emergency of a major hospital rather than any clinic, as I was concerned if they will be able to neatly stitch this wound with clean utensils.
My friends in a moment of panic took me to a small private hospital in a Markaz in Islamabad. I rushed to the emergency where I could see a lot of patients lying close to each other in their own small cubicles. I spoke to the doctor there and told him about the situation. He asked my friends to buy gauze from a nearby pharmacy and come back. Alarm rung for me if they had the proper tools to do stitches. he checked my wound and I told him that I need stitches and inquired who will do the stitching around here. He said that the surgeon would have to come and look at this first as he was unaware of any tendon was cut or not. I asked him immediately when the surgeon will come. He said that he will go call him. I asked him if he would suggest that I should go to the emergency of PIMS. He told me to wait so that surgeon can at least look at it. As I waited for a few minutes, which felt like ages, I went to the counter to ask the status of the surgeon. He told me that the surgeon is not available and I should go to PIMS instead. We rushed to PIMS. I grew increasingly concerned about how we have wasted precious time and should have gone to PIMS instead. I could see that I was not bleeding that much. On our way, in one inter junction, the traffic warden signaled to us to stop. My friends indicated to him that there is an emergency in the car so he stopped other cars and let us pass.
We reached PIMS and I rushed into the emergency on my own as my friends parked the car. I stood there at the counter and told them that I need stitches and where I should go. I could see that the computer operator behind the front desk told me to wait so he could attend to the patient in front of me. I waited impatiently for a few seconds and he asked me for basic information and gave me a slip. Unable to hold it as my both hands were occupied. I motioned to put it underneath my clenched arms.
I rushed into a room that I later learned was the first- aid room. I nervously spoke as the doctor inspected my wound. I was anxious as it was my first time in a government hospital and I had this perception of their lax- attitude and unhygienic tools. I asked him if he could check if my tendons were cut. He assured me that they are not as he told me that I could move my fingers and that there is no loss of sensation on my palm. I felt satisfied with his explanation. He told me that they will give me tetanus and anti-bleeding shots. I asked what was the need for an anti-bleeding shot when I am not bleeding. He told me that I could start bleeding again. Another doctor gave me both injections and I was off to the surgery department. My apprehensions were gone after meeting these two doctors as they were very learned, professionals, and used all pin- packed injections. The female doctor who attended me in the surgical doctor was also professional and gave me stitches and also handled my query about sterilized equipment as well. In 10 minutes, I was all stitched up, smiling, and ready to leave the hospital. I was guided about medications and general care as well. PIMS didn’t charge me a single rupee and handled everything well. I left in admiration of the institution and the health care professionals. As I was going through PIMS, I was being reminded of the opinion article I had read of Dr. Ramesh Kumar, senator, about his treatment in PIMS and how he felt privileged to being given really well treatment but he felt that other patients were not given same privileged status. As an average person, I felt I was treated well and all my queries were addressed in a respectful manner.
Covid pandemic has made us aware of the tough jobs that health care professionals have to do. They risk their lives to treat their patients and follow the cardinal principle of “Do No Harm.” There were rumors at the start of the pandemic that still circulate in Pakistan that health-care professionals are killing patients in order to get money from the IMF. These baseless rumors are not only false but highly disrespectful to the sacrifices and work of health-care professionals in this Nobel line of work. Public or private health-care