The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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SSKM full but not quite

Calcutta, May 20: Even the floors are overcrowded at SSKM, the apex teaching hospital in the state. It is known.

What is not so known is that a special wing of the same hospital has rows of empty beds, spacious cabins and several hundred square feet of unused space for years.

Hospital superintendent Santanu Tripathi chanced upon the vacant wards during a recent visit to the SSKM polyclinic on Elgin Road, yards from the hospital, and was surprised at the sight of empty beds and lazing employees.

Not that the nurses and attendants could be blamed. There wasn’t a patient.

Hundreds come to consult surgeons at the polyclinic every day. All that it takes is a Rs-100 ticket. But they are reverted to the main hospital for a surgery or hospital stay at a much later date because the operation theatre at the clinic does not have the facilities.

“I am left with little choice but to ask patients to wait for suitable dates, several weeks later, at the main hospital. If the OT was OK here, not only would they have got prompt treatment, the hospital could have earned some revenue. If this is not a criminal wastage of space, what is,” said a visiting surgeon.

Tripathi has submitted a detailed report to the government seeking help to restore the operation theatre so that some patients can be referred back from the main hospital.

A feasibility study with recommendations for immediate revival of the OT has been submitted to the authorities.

“We are planning to put the clinic back on track. It has huge potential and very soon we will turn it into a state-of-the art multi-purpose facility,” said an official. A new pathology wing is also coming up and computers are being installed to speed up administrative work.

“All this will certainly ease pressure on the main hospital,” Tripathi said.

On an average, SSKM has 1,200 patients in its various wards and about 100 more on the floors. Only minor ENT and gynaecological operations are now conducted at the polyclinic, a four-storeyed building with male and female wards and cabins.

Fifty years ago, it was set up for all surgical patients who could afford to pay for treatment in a better environment. A health department official said: “It is now a place for a nice adda.”

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