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First-day-first-show at AMRI: 45 patients

Paediatrician Jayati Sengupta walked into room number 109 of AMRI Dhakuria’s main building at 8.40am on Monday with an eagerness befitting the moment.

The south Calcutta hospital was reopening after two years and three weeks and Sengupta was the first doctor to be available for consultation at its renovated outpatient department.

“I am going out of the country tonight and so had planned to take the day off. Two days back, AMRI officials contacted me to say they were reopening the OPD and offered me a morning slot. I immediately agreed as I wanted to sit here on the opening day,” Sengupta said after seeing her first patient, six-year old Ronit De, around 9am.

Ronit had come with his mother to see Sengupta for a nagging cold and cough.

“I had last come to this hospital five years ago. I came to know that the doctor would be seeing patients here today, so that’s how we are back at AMRI,” said Runa Roy De, the boy’s mother.

The US-based IT professional was delighted to discover that she and her son wouldn’t have to wait for their turn. “There was no queue and so we didn’t have to wait at all. After the registration, we walked straight into the doctor’s chamber,” she said.

AMRI’s first day in more than 24 months saw 45 patients visiting the OPD. An official of the hospital said 23 doctors were available for consultation in different shifts.

The last time a doctor came to the OPD at the Dhakuria hospital was on the morning after the fire in Annexe I on December 9, 2011, that claimed 91 lives. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had announced the cancellation of AMRI Dhakuria’s health licence that very day.

Sengupta has since been seeing patients in AMRI’s Salt Lake and Mukundapur facilities.

Cardiologist P.K. Hazra, who has been associated with AMRI for 15 years and lost two of his patients in the 2011 fire, was back on Monday after two years with other hospitals. “In another week, I will devote more time to AMRI. I feel comfortable working here,” said Hazra, who saw three patients on the first day.

Laparoscopic surgeon Abhishek Bhartia was only a few months old in the hospital when the fire tragedy happened. “I had just returned from the UK after my postgraduation when the fire occurred. This was the place where I started my practice and so I am back,” he said.

There were others like general physician Subhas Todi who did not have an OPD date on Monday, but still came.

Most of the patients had been informed by their doctors’ secretaries to come to AMRI Dhakuria.

Homemaker Sudipta Mukherjee’s daughter Adrija was born at AMRI Dhakuria’s main building in 2009. She brought Adrija, now four-and-a-half years, for a check-up.

The 50-odd hospital employees had received text messages two days ago, asking them to report for duty. “It was a period of stress and uncertainty. We weren’t sure whether the hospital would reopen. We are so relieved now,” an employee said.