There are two private clinics in Thimphu, Padkar and Menjong diagnostic centre. The two clinics have been receiving quite a good number of patients every year. Menjong clinic was established in 2012 while Padkar was established in July 2015.
In 2018, Padkar Diagnostic received 4,267 patients and Menjong Diagnostic centre received 7,688 patients. The two private clinics offer services like endoscopy, ultrasound, ECG, blood, urine and stool test services.
Most people who avail the services from these two private clinics are those from faraway places as they do not have time to wait for long with logistical issues in the capital.
They clinics shared with The Bhutanese that 95 percent of the patients are diagnosed with gastritis but in different forms. There are also few cases of ulcers and cancers. These days there are colon cases coming too. However, gastritis is a bigger and common issue with the Bhutanese people -due to improper diet.
They shared that they conduct endoscopy for early diagnosis and see if they need any further treatment and review.
Dr. Sonam Drukpa from Menjong Diagnostic centre, Motithang said that they have received patients from faraway places like Lunana, Zhemgang, Samtse and etc.
In 2018, Menjongdid more than 2500 endoscopy and colonoscopies (those with stomach and colon problems) and 2600 ultrasound which could detect stones, cancer, etc and help them get treated properly as well as give them certain health advices. Menjong even dis 2588 bllod test and some ECGs.
He said, “Diagnostically we have been helping them (patients) a lot. I personally feel 90 percent satisfied with the service we are providing though 100 percent patients cannot be cured in the world.”
People from rural areas come to visit hospital and though the service is free of cost, the hospital is always packed which is why it is difficult to satisfy every patient. Even for an endoscopy or ultrasound test, people have to wait about a week and sometime even a month.
“They come here for an immediate check up and we help them. We offer free services if poor people come for check up. For some we charge for endoscopy and we do ultrasound for free of cost,” said Dr Sonam.
“So many cancers were detected in the clinic and many even got it operated but for some advance cases it is very difficult to tell the outcome. Nonetheless they benefit,” he added.
Dr Sonam refers 3 to 4 cases in a month to JDWNRH, after detecting cancer and other diseases. They said the hospital is doing a good job with any immediate treatment and they have solved many cases together.
He also said that there is a steady increase in number of patients every year, though not in big numbers. Many patients come from far flung area which is why it is quite encouraging.
There are some cases whereby they ask the patients for a follow-up check depending upon their disease. “Whatever biopsy we do here, JDWNRH provides us with the result and the result has been quite satisfactory until now. In terms of biopsy, JDWNRH is doing well for us and the patients,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said that they are waiting for the government policy to see if there is any chance of a polyclinic where they can have basic specialists to help the people.
He said, “We can also provide proper service on time and that will also reduce the burden of the government hospitals. Those who can afford can come to the private clinic whereas for those who cannot afford they can get better access in the government hospital.”
“Our clinic has achieved a good satisfaction on the service of diagnostics and in terms of health promotion,” he added.
Likewise, Dr. Ballab Sharma from Padkar Diagnostic centre, Olakha said that people choose to come to the two private clinics because in a hospital they have to wait in long queues and to also diagnose the disease at an early stage by doing endoscopy, ultrasound and some other tests.
“People trust me because I am an experienced doctor and therefore they come to me for re-diagnosis,” he said, adding that every day they refer 1 to 2 patient to JDWNRH whenever there is an emergency.
In some cases, they also had to call the ambulance and emergency department for immediate admission.
He said that with whatever facilities they have, they try to give patients the best service as fast as possible. Although they have seen less patients in the first year after the clinic establishment, the number have been increasing every year.
He said, “Maximum patients come for an endoscopy and blood test, to diagnose diabetes. Since I have served for so long in the hospital as a diabetes doctor, I therefore have maximum diabetic patients.”
In the future, he said that it would be convenient if Ministry can at least approve their request for a polyclinic because for now they cannot treat the the patient in the clinic even if they come in a critical condition.
He said, “I feel that even if they allow a private hospital, it is required. Otherwise, if government can at least approve a polyclinic that would be better where we can manage in treating the patient.”
In addition, he also said that people do come to their clinic to avail the service of X- Ray and it would be better if they can have those services in the clinic. “Government has been always supportive though”, he added.
By Damchoe Pem
The writer is a Senior Reporter with the paper.