Rajat Sharma

Pathetic conditions in Patna Medical College Hospital

akb full_frame_74900Tejashwi Yadav, the deputy chief minister of Bihar, who holds the health portfolio, made a surprise midnight visit to the state’s largest hospital, Patna Medical College Hospital, on Tuesday night, and was surprised to see the pathetic conditions prevailing there.

Unclaimed bodies were lying in the corridor, patients were sleeping on the floor, some had tied saline drop bottles by ropes to overhead lights, the hospital had only Paracetamol and pain killer tablets to give to patients, and the most important thing of all: doctors were absent. The pharmacy in-charge was also absent.

Critical patients, supposed to be inside ICU, were lying on stretchers, unattended. There was nobody to listen to the problems of the relatives accompanying the patients.

This is an example of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s 17-year-long ‘sushasan’ (good governance) . On Wednesday, Tejashwi Yadav held a meeting with civil surgeons and promised to improve the conditions of hospitals. He said, ‘conditions will definitely improve’. But our reporter, Nitish Chandra, who visited PMCH on Monday morning, found no change in the conditions prevailing in the hospital.

In my prime time show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ on Wednesday night, we showed visuals of how the state’s largest hospital was left at the mercy of nurses and trainee docs, while all senior doctors were absent from duty. Tejashwi Yadav also visited the Gardiner Road Hospital and Gardanibagh government hospital, but, by then, the word had spread, and he found doctors on duty in the remaining two hospitals.

Tejashwi Yadav first visited the general ward of PMCH. There was not a single doctor present on duty. Relatives of patients, on seeing the minister, came to him and narrated their grievances. Beds were broken, there were no pillows and bed sheets, patients were lying on mattresses, relatives were carrying saline drip bottles in their hands, as no stand was available, the ward was crowded and the stench of urine from nearby washrooms that emanated was nauseating. The relatives showed the minister the dirty washrooms that were unfit for use. Tejashwi could not summon the courage to enter the washrooms for inspection.

Most of the relatives said they were poor and had no money to buy medicines from outside and the hospital pharmacy had no medicines prescribed by doctors. They alleged that doctors, nurses and other staff turned a blind eye to their requests. Tejashwi then went to the pharmacy, but the manager was missing. The pharmacy was being run by two employees, kept on contract. They could not show him the list of medicines available. On his insistence, one employee told him that only 46 medicines were available, and the list was with the in-charge who would come in the morning.

Normally, nearly 600 types of medicines should have been available in the hospital pharmacy for giving to patients, free of cost.

Patna Medical College Hospital boasts of having 1,675 beds, and the state government has kept a target of increasing it to 5,462 beds. Nearly Rs 5,500 crore budget was earmarked for PMCH last year. On an average, nearly four thousand patients visit PMCH daily.

Tejashwi went to the doctors’ chambers. He could not find a single senior doctor present. There were only two junior doctors, who were post-graduate medical students, present. The junior doctors said, their senior had gone for dinner since 11 pm. Tejashwi found similar conditions in another ward, where only nurses were present.

There are 36 wards in PMCH. A total of 586 posts of doctors and professors have been sanctioned, but presently, there are only 331 doctors, while 255 posts are vacant.

When Tejashwi Yadav wanted to see the hospital superintendent, it was found that he, too was absent. Tejashwi called him on phone to come to the hospital immediately. He then went to the control room, where registration of patients is done. He wanted to check the doctors’ roster and the names of doctors on duty, but he was told no such lists or rosters were available. He was told there was no doctor handling the control room. The man sitting in the control room was a male nurse. When Tejashwi asked him, what business he had to be there, the male nurse replied: ‘I have been asked to be on duty here’.

While returning, Tejashwi noticed a closed room. When he asked, who was inside, he was told, it is the doctors’ room. The room was opened, and Tejashwi found a doctor lying, deep in sleep, on a bed, inside a mosquito net. Hearing the commotion, the man woke up and told the minister, ‘I am Dr. Anees’.

While leaving PMCH, Tejashwi Yadav said, strict action will be taken against officials and doctors for carelessness and dereliction of duty. PMCH medical superintendent Dr Indrashekhar Thakur, also said, action would be taken.

These were mere assurances. I sent India TV reporter Nitish Chandra to PMCH on Wednesday morning. He was stopped by security guards from entering the hospital. The reporter managed to speak to relatives of patients who were coming out. They said, conditions inside the hospital have not improved an inch and there was still shortage of doctors and medicines.

On Wednesday, news came about a clash with doctors and relatives of patients after a child died in the Children’s War. The child’s family alleged that the death was due to carelessness of doctors, and the child did not get timely treatment. Other relatives too joined the family members, and after a nasty quarrel, the two sides were engaged in the scuffle. By evening, the junior doctors went on flash strike.

I think it was a right decision of Tejashwi Yadav to go to the hospital unannounced and see with his own eyes, the achievements of ‘Sushasan Babu’ (Nitish Kumar). People from poorer classes have the right to treatment in government hospitals. Even the common man on the street is feeling unsafe.

On Wednesday, two persons were murdered in Patna, a policeman was killed in Siwan, and a mining department inspector sought security after he got threats from local mafia. The number of murders and ‘rangdari’ (extortion by goons) incidents has increased. People are questioning whether the goons are more afraid of police and administration. People also say that the conditions in Bihar hospitals have been pathetic since long.

But the question is: Nitish Kumar has been chief minister of Bihar for the last 17 years. Who gave him the title ‘Sushasan Babu’? Is Nitish Kumar not responsible for deterioration of law and order and conditions in hospitals?

If he believes that by bringing all opposition leaders like Sharad Pawar, Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav and Sitaram Yechury on a single platform, the conditions in Bihar will improve, he must do so. Maybe Nitish Kumar is in Delhi for the last three days in the hope of a magic to improve the life of people in Bihar.

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