islamabad - Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), the biggest and considerably best government hospital of the federal capital, depicts the picture of a railway platform as people can be seen lying at lawns with complete bedroom material when one enters the hospital’s premises.

These people are usually attendants of different patients admitted in the hospital who come from far-flung areas in search of cheap and somehow better medical facilities, and can’t afford to hire a room in a private hotel.

Patients brought to PIMS from other districts of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are usually accompanied by four to five attendants who then find no other place than the hospital itself to stay giving it the look of a local park or railway platform.

“I, along with four other family members, have come from Swabi and my sister is admitted in surgical ward for treatment of her broken leg. We are staying in the hospital and sleep in open air at lawns as we cannot afford to live in a hotel,” said Arsalan Khan, the father of two and a cart puller by profession. He said one of his relatives was staying inside the ward while rest of them were staying outside to manage affairs.

There are scores of others with similar sort of stories and circumstances, who are compelled to stay at PIMS’ grounds even in harsh weather conditions due to financial constraints and poverty.

“It becomes too cold and humid at night in Islamabad with fog pouring down these days, but we have no other option except bearing the same as private accommodation in the capital is too expensive,” said Shakeel Anwar, hailing from Deena, a town of Punjab. He said his wife was admitted in the medical ward and he had to stay in the hospital all the time in order to rush for medicines and laboratory tests which are not available in the hospital.

Established in 1985, Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) is a

research oriented health sciences institute having three semi-autonomous hospitals including the Islamabad Hospital (IH) which is a 592-bed hospital spread over 3.5 hectares, the 230 bed Children’s Hospital spread over 1.6 hectares specializing in paediatric care and the 125 bed Maternal & Child Health Care Centre which specialises in obstetrics and gynaecology.

“A large number of attendants are used to come with a single patient which creates an undesirable rush both inside and outside the wards which should be avoided,” said Dr Wasim Khawaja, the spokesman of PIMS. He said only one attendant is allowed with a patient inside the wards and private rooms.

It is pertinent to mention that around 5,000 to 7,000 patients visit the outdoor patients department and emergency of the hospital daily for medical treatment.

“Shelters are established for attendants outside the MCH and more can be established if needed,” Dr Khawaja informed. He said the attendants were allowed to stay in lawns of the hospitals on humanitarian grounds as mostly they are poor people and cannot hire a room on rent, however, there is a need to educate them that only one or two attendants with a patient was enough.

People staying in the hospital also pose security threats as anti-state elements can also find an easy shelter in the hospital, and this fact should also be taken into consideration.

Keeping aside all the apprehensions and facts it is heart-touching to see people in open air in that much cold. Even the blankets they used to cover themselves get wet with the due and humidity in the air at night.

Taj Nabi Khan, a working journalist, said the government should equip the hospital with all the required facilities so that attendants don’t have to rush to private laboratories and medical stores for tests and medicines, and then put a bar over the stay of more attendants in the hospital’s premises. He suggested that, for now, proper halls should be established for the attendants and they should not be allowed to stay in the lawns in order to give a tidy look to the hospital.

The authorities concerned should give immediate attention to the issue and establish shelters for the attendants so that their woes could be reduced.