Time: 9 am. Place: SSKM Hospital. The ward floors are unusually clean and the hospital staff at hand, welcoming every visitor with folded hands and a polite namaskar on the lips.
No, this was no inauguration of a new hospital, but the age-old emergency building of SSKM Hospital, dolled up for a trip by the three-member Medical Council of India (MCI) team, on its second inspection in four months, to see whether Bengal deserves an additional 150 seats at the under-graduate level.
Not satisfied with the facilities trotted out by the state government during its earlier visit, the MCI team on Thursday surprised everyone when it announced it wanted to start with both the outdoor and the indoor facilities at SSKM’s emergency building. The government was ready — all the ward boys and doctors were in place, with their medical equipment at hand.
From the emergency building, the team was taken to the pathology department, where most of the equipment had been uprooted a day earlier from the departmental lab of the University College of Medicine. The next venue, the student hostels. The hospital staff diligently took the team to the designated spot: the proposed yatri nivas for relatives of patients, doubling for the “new girls’ hostel.”
After a brief 15-minute inspection, the MCI team, with health department officials in tow, visited the post-graduate trainees’ hostel, which was passed off as the under-graduate trainees’ hostel. That round over, the health officials were eager to show off their gynaecology and ophthalmology departments.
“So this is your orthopaedics department'” asked an MCI member. A voice in the crowd replied: “Yes, this is where budding cricketer Rajnish Patel died.” Patel died from a fracture in his leg, after months of surgeries and experiments conducted on him by post-graduate trainees.
After the inspection of the orthopaedics ward, the team decided to halt for lunch. A sumptuous meal was ready, but the vegetarian inspectors decided to settle for sandwiches and misthi, before visiting the University College of Medicine (UCM). It was 6.15 pm when the MCI team called it a day, but hospital officials were still scurrying at the UCM to ready it for Friday’s visit.