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Hospital reborn in satellite avatar

(From top) The spick and span ante-natal ward, the operating theatre, the surgical gynaecology ward and renovation work at the post-natal ward of Abinash Dutta Maternity Home. Pictures by Bishwarup Dutta

A hospital in north Calcutta, which had almost fallen into disuse for more than a decade, has had a fresh lease of life, thanks to the state government’s decision to turn it into a virtual second campus of RG Kar Medical College and Hospital.

The state government, on February 13, had turned Abinash Dutta Maternity Home on BK Pal Avenue into a satellite unit of the medical college. “This will decongest the gynaecology department of RG Kar and ensure the use of under-utilised facilities,” said Sushanta Banerjee, the state’s director of medical education.

RG Kar’s gynaecology department is severely overburdened with patients. The department has 240 beds, but 600 to 700 patients are admitted there on an average at any time, officials said.

“At the department, patients have to share beds, even the makeshift ones on the floor,” said Parthajit Banerjee, the principal of RG Kar. The satellite unit, barely 2km away, would help reduce the load, he said.

Metro takes a round of the renovated hospital.

New look

The five-storeyed building covering an area of 3,600sq m was, until a couple of years ago, in a dilapidated state. Now, it has undergone major renovation and the building has got fresh coats of paint. The floors and walls have new tiles and the beds new mattresses.

“I never thought a government hospital could be so clean. At first, I thought it was a nursing home and was afraid that my husband would have to pay a lot,” said Rubina Biwi, who was referred to Abinash Dutta from RG Kar. “The doctors assured me it was a government hospital and we need not pay,” she said, relieved.

Doctors said Rubina had gone into premature labour. A resident of Beleghata, her husband Akramul Haq is a daily-wager. She was brought to RG Kar on Tuesday morning, where there was no bed. She was referred to Abinash Dutta.

The toilets have also undergone renovation and are clean. The two operating theatres have been overhauled, but the tables are yet to be changed.

Hospital sources said that earlier, the wards were dirty, walls had gutkha stains all over and the operating theatres had surgical waste scattered everywhere.

Though the hospital had a 100-bed capacity, only 25 were actually in use. “Because of a shortage of doctors and paramedics, the OTs were closed after 2pm and emergency cases were referred to RG Kar,” said a doctor. After it was attached to RG Kar, surgery is carried out till 8pm, he said.

P. Roy, the medical superintendent of the hospital, said around Rs 1.7 crore has been spent on renovating the hospital. “Work is still going on; it will be completed in a couple of months,” he said.

Earlier, there was a small-capacity generator to feed the two OTs and the labour room. Now, a 62kV generator has been set up to act as backup for the entire hospital.

Growth plan

The hospital plans to gradually make all 100 beds operational. Earlier, the hospital had 10-odd doctors but now, nine doctors from RG Kar’s gynaecology department have been posted there for six months. “The postings will be on rotation. We are planning to get more doctors so that all 100 beds are functional,” said Banerjee, the principal of RG Kar.

Nine doctors, assistant professors, resident medical officers and postgraduate trainees and one paediatrician have been posted at the hospital by the RG Kar authorities.

Banerjee said the radiology and pathology units of Abinash Dutta, which are defunct because of lack of staff, would be revived through the PPP model. “Till then, RG Kar will send its own pathologists and radiologists as an interim measure,” he said.

The post-natal ward is being renovated and a third emergency OT is being set up. A sick neonatal care unit is also on the anvil. “The civil construction is complete and the unit will be operational in a couple of months,” an official said.

Areas of concern

Despite the new look, the old problem — shortage of staff — remains. Hospital sources said there was a severe shortage of nursing and group D staff. “There is a single nursing staff in each shift for the ante-natal, post-natal wards and the labour room. Even the surgical ward has a single nurse for every shift,” a hospital source said.

There are around 30 group D employees, which is grossly inadequate. “We have sought 20 more group D personnel and at least five general duty medical officers to run all 100 beds properly,” an official said.