State Cancer Institute: A smiling ray of hope for Jammu

Prof. Nutan K. Resutra

It was around four in the evening when two perplexed men cane to the ground floor of State Cancer Institute situated in the vicinity of Super Specialty Hospital Jammu to seek consultations. They went to a small cabin where a lady doctor was sitting and requested for her opinion about the condition of an old aged person referred from the GMC. On seeing file, the doctor said that it was a case of Medical Oncology while she was a Specialist in Surgical Oncology. On seeing those confused men, she got up and herself went to look for the concerned specialist, ultimately informing the latter about the patient.Within moments Professor Doctor Rajeev Gupta, Head, Department of Medical Oncology came and smilingly asked them tosit comfortably in his Chambers. After going through the reports, he very politely started discussing the status of the patient asking various questions. Then he advised the duo to bring the patient after getting some specific tests conducted, assuring all help from the Institute. Dr. Rajeev gently said that irrespective of the age of patient, every human being has a right to live and he, the Doctor, shall try his best at it. Before coming to the State Cancer Institute, the duo had faced a very rude experience from the specialists of Urology Department and were too scared to talk to the specialist. Encouraged, the elder among the two could not help saying that he had never expected the courtesy and polite recommendations they had received there. The doctor again smiled and said: “Cancer is such a disease that merelyon hearing its name, most of the people lose heart thinking now they are surely going to die. We know under what mental stress the attendants of a cancer patient are; and it’s our endeavor to make them feel relaxed and comfortable.” The duo heartedly thanked him; and thus started their practical journey of treatment of their patient.
This is just one case I have narrated from the many untold stories going round the corridors of the State Cancer Institute, Jammu.
Renowned Cancer Specialist and a son of the soil, Doctor Ashok Vaid once told me that cancer is such a disease that people are afraid to even talk about it; hiding from everyone that they have one such patient in the family. “Whenever I am medically bound to say that a person is suffering from cancer, the first reaction of the patient is: Doctor Saheb, Ab Mere Pass Kitna Waqt Bacha Hai? People invariable take it for granted that once there is a cancer patient, the latter has only Ginti Ke Din! But this perception is wrong. Not every patient dies; although the treatment might be a prolonged one;” he added.
Just to give a brief introduction; it was last year on February 4, 2023 that the Out Patient Department or OPD of the State Cancer Institute Jammu was inaugurated by the then Secretary Health and Medical Education Bhupinder Kumar, IAS. With this the Institute started rendering invaluable services to suffering people from all parts of Jammu region. A similar Institute has been set up at SKIMS Srinagar too under the centrally sponsored scheme. The five-storey building of State Cancer Institute has all the departments needed to provide best possible treatment and services to a patient. It has five key departments as Medical Oncology, Surgical Oncology, Radiation Oncology, Preventive Oncology and Palliative Care. As the names suggest, each department is providing a specialised service as per requirements of a particular patient.Most of all, the Palliative Care Department takes care of the pain and suffering of a patient, with endeavor to provide even home care to them. So much for the technical jargon. Now, I would like to tell our readers what is the practical scenario at the State Cancer Institute, Jammu.
Just at the mast of entrance of the Institute; gently, but proudly flies the Tricolour, looking down upon all, infusing a feeling of Nationalism. There are certain things that seem remarkably different in this Institute. The moment a patient arrives at the main entrance, within no time a uniformed person appears with a wheel chair and politely tells the attendants that from hereon it’s his job to take the patient to the concerned doctor. The first timers never expect such warm welcome. With care, the security man takes patient to the designated room in the fully centrally air conditioned OPD where there is a Specialist ready to attend upon him or her. And then the treatment starts.
There are junior doctors and nursing staff present in the Day Wards and the Indoor wards respectively, always on their tip toes. One can easily feel pressure upon them, but then there is always courtesy, professionalism and mostly smiles on their faces. Perhaps they too realise the trauma of both patients and the attendants of this horrific disease. Even the security personnel posted in the wards very gently ask attendants not to crowd at strategic points. The attendants’ sitting area is quite sufficient to accommodate them comfortably.
People in general talk of lack of sanitation in government hospitals, but in this Institute, one does not fail to feel stark difference. The sanitation staff at regular intervals is seen in cleanliness process, ranging from wards to corridors to washrooms. The Medical Superintendent of the Institute Dr. Deepak Gupta is often seen personally checking various equipments and instruments while going on daily rounds to ensure that these provide accurate readings and results; besides going through the regular aspects of sanitation, attendance, working activities, etc. of the doctors and the ancillary staff. His keen eye takes note of everything, however irrelevant it might appear and does not mince words in giving his mind to the concerned persons. The result is evident efficiency, coupled with desired results.
There is no denying that fact that cancer is a costly disease. But the patients with Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Manatri Jan Arogya Yojna get insurance cover up to Rs 5 lakh per family which is no doubt a great relief to them. Also, there is an Amrit Store that provides medicines at quite subsidized rates, the difference between MRP and the store price being even up to seventy percent.
Doctor Rajeev Gupta, HoD Medical Oncology has been a bright cadet of the Sainik School Nagrota. Many a time his tall, towering personality overshadows everyone there, his smile and politeness encourage people to express themselves without hesitation. With dreamy eyes, he confided: “The State Cancer Institute has an MoU with the Tata Memorial Cancer Hospital Mumbai and I am trying this Institute to be of the same stature too.”In doing so he is seen making efforts to go even beyond the present paraphernalia to provide as much facility to patients as feasible. “Cancer patients suffer a lot both financially and mentally when they have to run to different private hospitals for their treatment. It takes almost two and a half years to get Chemotherapy and supportive care at the Tata Hospital Mumbai with costs going into lakhs.The Jammu and Kashmir government has given a great boon to all of us and I dream of providing this facility to the common in the best possible way;” he further said. He frankly admitted that all departments are not yet optimally operational, but strongly hoped that very soon the same would become so.
Just like any other new Institute, State Cancer Institute Jammu is also facing some teething problems as regards various machinery and medical facilities. But soon these problems would be a thing of the past, said the Medical Superintendent.Elaborating, Doctor Deepak Gupta informed that as one of the diagnostic tests, patients have to go in for PET Scan for which they have to go to some private diagnostic centers as of now. The Institute has now acquired the PET Scan facility and its dry run has already been conducted. By the next month, this Institute will have its own fully functional PET Scan facility; providing services to the deserving patients at quite reasonable rates, Dr. Deepak further added. The plans for acquiring MRI machines are also in pipeline, the actual functioning being a matter of time. Similarly, we shall soon see other departments fully functional too, he confided.
There is another side of the coin too. As the grape wine goes, there are certain vested interests behind the curtain who are bent upon giving regressive working to this prestigious Institution. It’s those forces’ vicious motive not to let sophisticated machinery take off the working runway soon so that the earnings of certain diagnostic centers remain unabated. But then, this is generally alleged for all those institutions that are meant to provide relief to general masses. The former Secretary Health and Medical Education Bhupinder Kumar IAS had taken personal interest in making this Institution function properly. Now, the general feeling among all is that the present incumbent Dr. Syed Abid Rasheed Shah, IAS shall also take keen interest in helping it to achieve the desired results. For, Dr. Abid Shah has on many occasions displayed that he is a no no-sense officer. He is a known visionary, a dynamic person who believes in giving free hand to the medical intelligentsia as the latter render Yeoman’s Service. Dr. Abid is also known to stand for the genuine cause of public in general and the sincere, efficient staff in particular. Thus, all the stakeholders at the State Cancer Institute are highly optimistic that soon this prestigious Institute shall also become fully operational sooner than expected with personal attention and all out support of Secretary Health Dr. Syed AbidRasheed Shah, which in turn will provide requisite services to the destitute and the suffering.
As of now, the State Cancer Institute has emerged a smiling ray of hope for those who have lost all hope of life!

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