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A pig-sty as health centre

6Arup Ghosh (name changed) is a doctor serving at B.C. Roy Memorial Hospital for Children. He stays in the staff quarters and shares the accommodation. The toilet is overflowing. Ghosh and his colleagues at times have to use the pay-and-use public lavatory before going to the wards.

6The canteen, small and unclean, is outside the main building. The approach road is not paved; the bricks are loose, often responsible for broken ankles.

6Hospital superintendent Anup Mandal admits that he keeps the windows of his chamber shut. “The stench is overbearing at times,” he said, pointing to the mass of clinical waste and faeces outside the window.

For the doctors, nurses and Group-D staff of the state’s only paediatric referral hospital, working means battling nausea, hunger and a lack of hygiene. They find it “revolting”. “But we have learned to accept the conditions,” a doctor said, admitting that it was difficult to provide quality healthcare out of a “pig-sty”.

B.C. Roy Memorial Hospital, say officials, has become a favourite punching bag for Opposition politicians, who think of unusual forms of protest. The reason: the hospital compound has enough cattle and pigs to herd into the superintendent’s chamber, whenever the occasion demands. That was what local Trinamul Congress MLA Paresh Pal did on Monday, when he sought to attract attention to the state of the hospital. The calf he dragged into the superintendent’s chamber is still roaming about, waiting to be used as a protest vehicle again.

The second floor has a separate room — less than 100 sq feet — for the house-physicians and post-graduate trainees. It has a single bed that the doctors, like their patients, have to share, other than a single chair. “But this is the least of our worries,” a doctor said, pointing to the toilet. A smaller version of the room, the toilet seemed a remnant from the days when people carried away night-soil.

Nurses, however, admit that their accommodation is somewhat better. But the open ground beside their hostel is now a haunt for neighbourhood hoodlums, who often indulge in ogling and teasing, besides drinking and gambling after dark. And the wall in front has become a urinal.

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