Families wait outside a closed medicine counter at MGM hospital in Sakchi on Wednesday. (Animesh Sengupta)
MGM Medical College and Hospital, which is already grappling with a staff crunch, was rendered all the more crippled on Wednesday when a huge chunk of technical employees and paramedics were pulled out for election training.
Of the total 250 Grade III and IV employees at the Sakchi-based heal hub, as many as 54 have been roped in for Lok Sabha poll duty by the East Singhbhum district administration. On Wednesday, all of them were called to attend an election training session, leaving patients back at the hospital in the lurch.
In the absence of support staff, registration of patients at the OPD remained suspended, X-rays and blood tests could not be done and the pharmacy section was shut. Distribution of food to indoor patients was also hit.
“I brought my daughter, who is suffering from ear ailment, to the hospital. A doctor at the OPD checked her, but when I went to purchase medicines, I found the counter closed. It’s really frustrating,” rued Nehrul Nisa, a resident of Jawaharnagar in Mango.
People like Nisa must brace for more inconvenience in the coming days as similar sessions have been slated for April 2 and April 9. Once the training gets over, the 54 staff will go for three-day election duty from April 16.
Although the hospital administration has written to East Singhbhum deputy commissioner-cum-returning officer, requesting him to exempt some of the staff from attending the training and poll duty, a reply is yet to come.
“It’s true that medical services were affected today (Wednesday) as most of our technical staff, who are required for essential duties, had gone for the election training programme. Apprehending such problems, I wrote to the deputy commissioner-cum-returning office on March 24, requesting him to exempt some of the 54 employees. But as of now, no response has come from the authority concerned,” S.K. Chowdhury, superintendent of MGM Medical College and Hospital, told The Telegraph.
The superintendent voiced fears that his request might not be heeded at all.
Chowdhury is not wrong if the buzz at the returning officer’s office is anything to go by.
Although returning officer Amitabh Kaushal could not be contacted as he was busy with nomination filing work, a senior official admitted that it was difficult to accept the hospital’s request. “There are so many polling booths and we need people to ensure a seamless and smooth voting process. We cannot spare any hands now,” the official pointed out.
Should the district administration exempt health staff from poll duty? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org