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Ailing facilities hit health hub

Bhubaneswar, Nov. 18: Defunct equipment and shortage of manpower at Capital Hospital here are creating hurdles in providing quality health care to the people.

The blood component separation unit (BCSU) at the hospital and the ultrasound equipment have been lying idle for the past eight months and six months, respectively. Even the catheterisation laboratory (cathlab) cannot be used to its full capacity because of shortage of technicians.

While a component separation unit separates red blood cells, plasma and platelets for specific use in the treatment of diseases such as dengue and thalassemia, cardiac catheterisation is a medical procedure used to diagnose and treat certain heart conditions. A cathlab is used for investigation and treatment of cardiac catheterisation.

The BCSU, which was set up in 2001 at a cost of nearly Rs 50 lakh, is lying defunct because of the absence of two refrigerators to preserve blood. The Red Cross blood bank on the hospital premises provides nearly 18,000 units of blood every year. Of this, 3,000 units go for separation of blood components.

Apart from Capital Hospital, only BMC Hospital and three other private hospitals in the city have the component separation facility. As the corporation hospital fails to cope with the demand, patients have to depend on the three private hospitals and the Central Red Cross Blood Bank in Cuttack.

Pocket pinch

The patients have to spend around six times more because Capital Hospital does not have ultrasound facilities. While it cost Rs 100 to use the facility at the government-run hospital, the same test costs more than Rs 600 in private establishments.

“The doctors want an ultrasound procedure done on my father. But when I went to the ultrasound centre at the hospital, I was informed that the unit was not functioning. Consequently, I had to do it at a private diagnostic centre and it cost me Rs 650,” said Jatin Behera, a resident of Nayagarh district.

“Capital Hospital is the largest government hospital in Bhubaneswar. It’s a shame that the hospital cannot cater to the medical needs of patients, some of who come from far-flung areas, because of defunct equipment. What about those poor people who have to shell out a huge amount for some tests conducted outside?” said a relative of a patient on condition of anonymity.

Secretary of state Red Cross Mangala Prasad Mohanty said they had asked the authorities many times to procure the refrigerators.

“Blood component therapy is essential here because the state faces a deficiency in blood supply. At the same time, a single unit of blood can be used by more than one patient through component separation,” said Mohanty.

Staff crunch

Staff shortage is another problem at the hospital’s cardiac cathlab. Though three technicians are required for managing the lab, at present, there is only one technician.

The lab, which began functioning on July 15 last year, was set up at a cost of Rs 5 crore. However, only a few people were interested in the job, primarily because their appointments were not on a permanent basis.

“Since the technicians are engaged on a contractual basis, they leave whenever they get better opportunities,” said a hospital official.

Lack of adequate beds in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for cardiac patients is also a problem. Of the five ICU beds, only one is assigned for cardiac patients.

“ICU is a must for cardiac patients. But since the hospital lacks adequate ICU beds, patients show little interest in the cathlab,” said a hospital official.

Chief medical officer Sudarshan Dash said tenders for procuring an ultrasound machine and refrigerators for the BSCU have already been awarded. “The supplier will shortly give us the equipment. As far as the cathlab is concerned, the expansion of the ICU is almost complete. Once the expanded ICU becomes operational, we can expect more cardiac patients to visit the hospital,” said Dash.

QUICK LOOK

A component separation unit separates red blood cells, plasma and platelets for specific use in the treatment of dengue, thalassemia and other diseases

Cardiac catheterisation is a medical procedure used to diagnose and treat
certain heart conditions. A cathlab is used for investigation and treatment of cardiac catheterisation