|(From top) The Infectious Diseases Hospital in Ranchi on Wednesday, notice the scrawl on the gate in the absence of a signboard. A tetanus patient from Bengal’s Purulia district undergoes treatment. Pictures by Hardeep Singh
It is Jharkhand’s only state-run hospital where you’d get a tetanus vaccine costing Rs 2,850 for free without fuss. Cynics give it the ultimate clean chit possible in the state — “dhandli yahan control mein hai” (here, corruption is under control).
Infectious Diseases Hospital in Ranchi’s East Jail Road, set up in 1947, is just under 4km from Bariatu’s Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS). The 50-bed hospital is Jharkhand’s sole treatment hub for virulent infections — cholera, enteric diseases, tetanus, rabies. But it is low-key to the extent of literal invisibility.
The hospital doesn’t have a signboard. And though it is one of the most transparent state-run healthcare services in Jharkhand, it hides its light under a bushel because it simply has no lights or electrical wiring on its campus.
If doctors from sadar hospitals refer a patient to Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH), relatives need to embark on a Christopher Columbus kind of an exploration.
On Wednesday, The Telegraph spotted an elderly man from Simdega, Alexander Lakra, pacing up and down East Jail Road.
“I have to bring a tetanus patient from Simdega tomorrow. Simdega Sadar Hospital authorities told me that the IDH is on East Jail Road. I have been asking passers-by about it since half an hour. Can you help me?” he asked a tea stall owner.
The tea man pointed to the building behind him. “Just go inside. This is the IDH gate,” he said.
Bengal’s Purulia resident Jhandu Singh said his seven-year-old son Vidhan Chandra, also a tetanus patient, was referred to the IDH by doctors at RIMS.
“There is no signboard, reaching here was a problem. But my auto driver was helpful,” said Singh.
But the grateful young father stressed on the hospital’s undeniable USP. “My son got two tetanus shots, each costing Rs 2,850. I couldn’t have afforded that kind of money,” he said.
Hospital superintendent Dr Ragini Minz said they treated around 300 critical patients a year referred from across the state and outside free of cost.
But she admitted that the lack of any signboard and any lighting arrangement outside the building on the campus posed serious problems.
“A wooden board was fixed outside the gate, but it was too weather-beaten. It fell down this August. I’ve asked the health department to provide funds for a new signboard,” she said.
The hospital also lacks proper drinking water facility, depending on a sole hand pump and hour-long supply between 7am and 8am from the pipeline laid down by the Ranchi Municipal Corporation.
“We’ve asked the health department several times to repair the bore well’s motor,” said Minz.
A signboard, some bulbs and the repair of a bore well motor. For the rare health hub in the state that does its job with quiet efficiency, this sure seems to be a modest wish list.
Why has the state been step-motherly towards IDH?