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Sick lifts plague hospitals

Calcutta, Sept. 5: Lifts in most government hospitals in the city don’t run, either because of a breakdown or because the liftman is playing truant.

At Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, the condition appears to be the worst with even the officials admitting that the elevators, an important part of the infrastructure, don’t work. “Most of the machines are in poor condition and the elevators get out of order from time to time,” said deputy superintendent A.. Biswas.

Not only the patients, even hospital staff face problems, Biswas complained. “A few days ago, I got stuck inside an elevator for over half-an-hour,” he said.

Officials said that in six main buildings, where patients are admitted, there are 13 elevators maintained by the PWD staff. Liftmen are supposed to be on duty for 24 hours in three shifts. But this afternoon, during visiting hours, four lifts were not working and three were “on rest”.

One lift in the casualty block had a liftman. At all the other elevators, there were no attendants. “The attendant is on duty from 2 pm to 10 pm but he sometimes takes a walk,” a guard at Green Building said.

Asked how patients or relatives from remote villages were expected to operate the automatic lifts, officials said: “They are sometimes helped by the hospital staff.”

At Chittaranjan National Medical College and Hospital, the scene was almost identical although the PWD electrical department officers claimed “the lifts are the best in the state”. Out of seven lifts in five buildings, three have attendants but not one was in sight this afternoon. Two lifts were not working — one at the Raja Rammohan Roy building and the other at the Surgical Building.

“These are machines so they can get out of order. But we repair them very fast,” an official explained. But hospital sources said the lifts have been out of order for quite a few days.

At R.G. Kar Medical College and Hospital, there are more than 20 lifts for five buildings. But out of six lifts in the Emergency building, only three were running. As a result, the lifts that have a carrying capacity of 20 have to accommodate many more. “We have to stand in long queues for more than 15 minutes for our turn to go up,” said Shyamal Gupta, who comes almost every day to visit a close relative.

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