|Superintendent of MGM Medical College and Hospital SS Prasad inspects the damaged elevator at the medical block (above) on Wednesday. Pictures by Bhola Prasad
An empty elevator at MGM Medical College and Hospital crashed from the second floor on Wednesday morning, once again bringing to the fore the run-down and perilous condition of the state-run hospital in Jamshedpur.
Lift man Mahadev Prasad said the incident took place around 7.30am in the four-storey medical block.
“I was waiting downstairs with three canteen boys who wanted to take the elevator. As soon as I pressed the down button, the lift glided for a while and then there was a loud thud — the cable in the shaft had snapped. Fortunately, no one was aboard. Imagine if there were patients inside…” the 30-year-old man, in the profession for eight years, paused.
He said that this was the lone elevator in service at the medical block. On an average, 150 people — including patients from the gynaecology ward — use the lift daily. Besides, stretchers, food trolleys, oxygen cylinders and medical equipment are also ferried round the clock.
But curiously, no one ever heard a screech or a clank to foretell a mishap like this.
“My father is admitted here. I have been a regular visitor for a week. I often took the lift to the second floor. But, nothing seemed unusual. Today’s incident is unfortunate,” said Mujibur Hasan, a resident of Azadnagar in Mango.
Reshmi Devi (35), a gynaecology patient, said climbing stairs even to the first floor was out of question for her and many others. “Let’s see what the hospital management does.”
Hospital officials said they had engaged additional staff to carry patients up the stairway on stretchers. “This has to continue till the elevator is fixed,” said an administrative official.
MGM superintendent S.S. Prasad claimed the elevator that crashed was routinely maintained. “In fact, only two months ago, the mechanical wing of the medical department had carried out maintenance work,” he said.
Prasad, however, conceded that the lift was “old and obsolete”. “It was installed eight years ago. I had already written to the department of health and medical education, asking for replacement. But, before the old elevator could be dismantled to make way for a new one, it crashed,” he said.
On why an “obsolete” elevator was in use, he hurriedly added that the maintenance department had not warned them about the worn-out cable.
“Had the technical officials told us about the fragile condition of the cable, we would have got it changed. Elevators are used by patients, we would not have taken a chance. The matter is being investigated.”
Executive engineer of energy department Arvind Kumar, who had assigned maintenance work to Calcutta-based Adams Elevator Private Limited, expressed surprise. “The private firm has a good reputation and is known to have carried out maintenance work at MGM diligently. We have, however, sought an explanation from it,” he said.
The superintendent pointed out that there were two more lifts in the hospital, both in the surgical block, and they would be thoroughly checked to avoid a rerun.
Are MGM/health authorities to blame for negligence?