After a six-month stint as the chief executive officer and director of Woodlands Hospital, Lt General H.R.S. Kalkat resigned from his post and immediately left the city on Saturday.
The news of Kalkat’s exit as the hospital’s CEO was as dramatic as his appointment, leaving the city’s medical fraternity stunned.
His stint began on October 10, 2002, and was mired in controversies. There were rumours in the hospital about “pressure tactics” on doctors to recommend more patients for pathological and radiological tests within the hospital, sparking protests from within and outside the hospital.
Senior doctors had also objected to decisions to hike room rents by almost 25 per cent, increase the out-patient department (OPD) fees from Rs 300 to Rs 400 and reduce the percentage of fees from OPD for respective doctors. Hospital sources said the board of governors, taking note of the chaotic situation prevailing at the hospital and the widespread resentment among doctors, asked Kalkat to resign.
However, speaking to The Telegraph on Saturday afternoon, chairman of the board of governors at Woodlands Hospital, Sanjib Goenka insisted that Kalkat resigned on his own and the board had nothing to do with the decision. “The board recently met and unanimously accepted Kalkat’s resignation. He has been asked to continue till May 31,” Goenka said.
He added that “the board was looking for an immediate replacement for Kalkat”. General manager of the hospital Rana Dasgupta and resident cardiologist Asim Bardhan have been asked to look after the affairs of the hospital until a new CEO takes over.
A senior official in the board revealed on conditions of anonymity that the board of governors was concerned with the way a profit-making hospital like Woodlands was losing out on a lot of revenue of late.
Kalkat could not be contacted at the hospital or at his Alipore Estate residence. Dasgupta said: “Kalkat left the city on leave for either Chandigarh or New Delhi. We don’t have a clue where he can possibly be. He has even left his mobile phone behind, making it impossible for us to contact him.”
The hospital has suffered a drop in the number of patients. There have been controversies over removal of several senior officials from the management as well. The hospital’s ambitious plans of setting up an ENT unit have also been stalled.