Ganesh Mahto was rushed to Hazaribagh Sadar Hospital with severe breathing problems on December 14. He immediately got a bed, but no oxygen. It was only after the patient’s relatives raised a hue and cry that the nurses arranged an oxygen cylinder for him
Mahto was lucky. Usually, patients rushed to Hazaribagh Sadar Hospital on Main Road with critical injuries and ailments are either referred to other health hubs or have to wait gasping for breath before help comes their way in the absence of proper oxygen facilities.
It’s not that the 220-bed state-run healthcare facility, which bagged the status of regional hospital in 2007, has no oxygen cylinder. There are as many as eleven, but only two are fit for use. The remaining nine cylinders have malfunctioning regulators.
Nurses, as a result, have little option but to keep the patients waiting. In severe cases, they are referred to Ranchi, which means that they at least get oxygen in ambulances.
“We only know how we are managing with only two oxygen cylinders. We keep juggling them among the patients. At times, we land in trouble when a patient is brought in and we are unable to immediately provide oxygen to him or her. I am dreading the day when relatives of one patient or the other will erupt and create a furore,” said a nurse on the condition of anonymity.
On an average, the hospital’s outpatient department (OPD) gets 800 to 1,000 patients from various districts of North Chotanagpur commissionerate daily.
When contacted, deputy superintendent of the hospital S.R. Dangi admitted that oxygen cylinders were not in working condition.
“What can we do? Whenever, relatives of patients get angry, they go on the rampage and damage regulators of oxygen cylinders. But I will soon take measures to fix them,” he added.
Local Congress leader Devendra Singh Deo dubbed the situation as “very serious” and threatened to launch an agitation if the hospital authorities failed to take action soon.
“It’s the responsibility of the hospital authorities to provide basic infrastructure to the patients,” he said.
Another compliant is that there is shortage of plaster of Paris, which is used to fix orthopaedic cast in treatment of fractures, at the hospital.
“For the past five months, the hospital has been facing severe shortage of plaster of Paris. I had written to health officials in Ranchi on the issue. The hospital has started taking Rs 5 from patients coming to the OPD. A fund of Rs 2 lakh has already been raised through this system and the management should use the money to repair oxygen cylinders and purchase essential medical items like plaster,” said CPM district secretary Ganesh Kumar Verma .
Deputy superintendent Dangi admitted that they often ran out of plaster of Paris. “But we somehow arrange it,” he added.