Abhijit Pal waits for his turn to see a doctor at the fever clinic. (Sayantan Ghosh)
A 67-year-old man from Bijoygarh on Thursday became the sixth victim of dengue in the city this year.
Bhuban Krishna Roy died at the Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences in the morning. He had been admitted there early on Monday after he lost consciousness and fell down in a marketplace.
“Initially, a CT scan of his brain was performed and he was admitted under a neurosurgeon as dengue was not suspected. But a dengue rapid test came out positive,” said a hospital official.
A MAC ELISA IgM, the confirmatory test for dengue, was also positive and Roy’s platelet count began to fall. He was shifted to the ITU and put on ventilator but haemorrhagic fever had set in and his blood pressure continued to fall, leading to his death, said hospital sources.
The hospital has sent a report to Swasthya Bhavan.
The government has opened a “fever clinic” at Calcutta Medical College and Hospital to relieve patients of harassment.
Metro on Thursday visited the clinic that is being run from a room in the medicine outpatients department and found that the welfare of patients was being compromised on many fronts.
Long wait: One of the main purposes of the fever clinic was to ensure patients with high fever were segregated and quickly attended to. But the first thing patients encounter is a snaking queue at the “ticket counter”.
The ticket counter provides each patient with a serial number.
Because there is no separate ticket counter for them, fever patients are segregated only after they spend a good hour at the crawling queues.
It took Ranju Singh, whose son was suffering from fever for the last six days, three hours to complete the process.
Even patients referred to the fever clinic from the emergency ward have to queue up.
“My son had a temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit in the morning,” said Swapna Pal of Hatibagan. “I took him to the emergency ward and was referred to the fever clinic. There, we saw five queues, each with at least 100 people.”
Swapna, worried about her son Abhijit, 15, especially since two other boys from the locality had tested positive for dengue, tried in vain to reason with the men at the counter to give her a ticket early.
Finally, a call to a senior official of the hospital ensured that Abhijit, who could barely sit straight, got his chance to see a doctor.
There’s no such luck for those who don’t know any hospital official.
Hospital voice: “It isn’t possible to handle so many patients without any hassle,” said medical superintendent Asim Kumar Ghosh.
Lift out of order: The clinic is on the second floor of the New OPD Building but the lone lift has been out of order for months, forcing patients, many of whom can’t even sit up, to walk.
“The lift is most often out of order and it inconveniences patients a lot, especially the elderly and those with cardiac problems,” said a Group D employee.
Hospital voice: “We realise there are problems but can’t help. The PWD and CESC are handling the matter. We are trying to sort things out,” said Ghosh.
Washrooms locked: There is a bench blocking the path leading to the toilets and drinking water outlets, where patients have to wait for hours. Sources said thieves had stolen the taps and other fittings. The response from the authorities was to shut the washrooms. “I am very unwell and feeling much worse after a trip to the ground-floor toilet,” said Mandira Das from Murshidabad.
Hospital voice: “The toilets will be opened soon,” said Ghosh.
Tests: The hospital is not always being able to conduct platelet tests, which are crucial to detect dengue.
So, patients like Abhijit often have to get their tests done outside. That means spending at least Rs 400 when the government hospital could have done it for free.
“The doctors suspect Abhijit has dengue. They have prescribed a platelet count and an IgM dengue test two days later. But they said the test could be done in the hospital only three or four days later,” said the boy’s mother. “We couldn’t wait that long and got it done outside.”
Hospital voice: “There is a lot of pressure on our pathology labs and there may be some delays. But we are ensuring that the costlier dengue confirmatory test, MAC ELISA IgM, is conducted free,” Ghosh said.