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Polio clinic fears crippling load

All’s not well with B.C. Roy Polio Clinic and Hospital for Crippled Children. Not because it shares the name with the state’s only paediatric referral hospital, less than a kilometre away, but because it has been asked to bear some of its burden.

The authorities of the Narkeldanga hospital, spotlessly clean now, are waiting to meet senior state health department officials on Friday. The meeting will decide the specifics of its patient-sharing arrangement with B.C. Roy Memorial Hospital for Children. The hospitals now already share a principal, Meena Basak, as the first fallout of the multiple baby deaths over the past few days.

“We have not been officially told about anything that is going to transpire,” polio hospital superintendent Bishnudas Mandal said on Thursday. “But we will have to abide by whatever the government orders us to do.”

Other doctors, however, are not so sure. The hospital, because of the nature of patients it admits, is more used to handling cases involving surgery, they said, warning that if saddled with other patients, it will flounder, and might even jeopardise its reputation as a leading centre for polio treatment.

The Medical Service Centre (MSC) echoed this concern. “This is the foremost speciality hospital for polio cases in the state,” said MSC spokesperson Bijnan Bera. “Entry of other surgical cases will automatically lead to a drop in quality.”

Superintendent Mandal, however, said: “We will not have much to worry about if we are given orthopaedic cases requiring surgery.”

But he, too, expressed concern over the toll the influx of general emergency cases could take on the hospital’s clean and hygienic condition. “Emergency outdoors will imply a lot of people coming in and things might spin out of control.”

The polio hospital has 200 beds — 120 surgery and 80 medicine — divided among 10 wards. The first-floor wards deal with the surgery cases and the second-floor wards with medicine.

Doctors at the hospital were not too comfortable with their current numbers either. The indoor medicine ward usually has a high vacant-bed ratio, allowing the hospital to manage with the current staff strength.

“But if we are saddled with extra cases but no extra doctors, we could end up in a position similar to the children’s hospital,” warned a senior physician.

Some vacancies already exist — visible on the hospital’s who’s-who board with white strips blotting out the last doctor’s name — forcing them to limit the number of outpatients.

The orthopaedic pay-clinic now sees patients on Wednesdays and Fridays and physical medicine on Tuesdays, with only paediatric medicine operating six days a week. “We see outdoor patients only between 4 pm and 7 pm,” said a physician.

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