Deployment of four specialists for Wangdicholing hospital awaits OT set up

 Wangdicholing General Hospital in Bumthang

Bumthang hospital will focus on specialized health services for central region 

Lhakpa Tshering

In keeping with the government’s promise made during the by-election in Chokhor-Tang, four health specialists have been identified to start the specialist health services in Wangdicholing General Hospital in Bumthang once the setting up of the operation theater (OT) is complete.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) has directed the Department of Medical Services (DMS) and Bumthang Dzongkhag administration to expedite in setting up OT services in the old hospital complex.

The ministry has already processed the procurement of major equipment like OT table, anesthesia machine, and OT light or laparoscopy set to establish critical specialized services of obstetrics and gynecology, pediatric, general surgery, and anesthesiology that will start in a few months.

The Health ministry’s Chief Human Resource Officer, Sangay Thinley, said that the identified specialists are among the 11 resident doctors who recently graduated from the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB).

As they wait for an OT to be set up in the hospital, Sangay said, the specialists are currently being attached to the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH). “Of course their names are reflected under Bumthang,” he added.

Along with the four specialists – a surgeon, pediatric, anesthesiologist, and gynecologist, it will deploy three anesthetist technicians, six scrub nurses, and two staff nurses for the inpatient department (IDP) from JDWNRH and nearby dzongkhag hospitals to run the OT services.

By introducing specialist services in Bumthang, the people of the central region can avail themselves of the services at their doorstep by reducing travel time to JDWNRH and Eastern Regional Referral Hospital (ERRH) in Mongar given the long referral distances.

Health officials say it is also expected to reduce the number of referrals, thus, helping to decongest JDWNRH and ERRH, and also reduce the waiting time of patients for elective surgeries given that they wait for over six months at JDWNRH.

Besides, providing specialist services is also expected to help reduce the referral cost and movement of people from far-flung districts to Thimphu and Mongar in the context of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Officials say that although Bumthang falls under the jurisdiction of Central Regional Referral Hospital in Gelephu, many patients are referred to Thimphu and some are referred to Mongar due to long-distance and poor road connectivity from Bumthang to Gelephu.

In the meantime, Wangdicholing hospital also received an endoscopy machine in April and a surgeon has been temporarily transferred from Phuentsholing General Hospital to provide endoscopy services to the people of the central region.

Given that the existing 20-bed Wangdicholing hospital has limited space to expand in the future, the health ministry also explored the possibility of securing funding from outside donors to build a new hospital in Bumthang.

Meanwhile, to enhance the dzongkhag hospitals, the health ministry has also identified a pathologist to establish pathology services at Jatshokha hospital in Wangduephodrang so that would reduce the workload of the pathology service at JDWNRH.

The service is expected to benefit many cancer patients undergoing stomach and cervical cancer screening under the government’s health flagship program.

In addition, Wangdue hospital will function as a backup for JDWNRH in the case of the Covid-19 outbreak at the hospital and positive cases among the healthcare workers that will ultimately lead to compromise in the health services.