|A defunct AC and fans at one of the burns wards at Patna Medical College and Hospital and shoes lie in front of an AC machine. Pictures by Ranjeet Kumar Dey
“Fanwa thik kara dijiye na, didi, bahut garmi hai (get the fans repaired, it’s too hot),” requested 41-year-old Vijay Kumar to this correspondent at the burns ward of Patna Medical College and Hospital.
Vijay, a daily wager, has been watching his wife Anita Devi wailing in pain in the sweltering weather for the past seven days. Both the air-conditioners (ACs) of this ward, where Devi is admitted, are defunct. To add to patients’ woes, even the fans here are non-functional.
Vijay said: “My wife suffered burn injuries from an earthen oven while cooking food seven days back. I am seeing my wife writhing in pain. Forget ACs, even the fans are not working. I have complained to the nurses about the problems but in vain.”
He added: “Rich people can afford to go to private hospitals and avail state-of-the-art facilities. What about poor patients like us?”
His wife Anita, who is admitted to room number 308, said: “I have an unbearable itching sensation and the defunct fans and ACs have only added to my problem. I am not feeling well at all.”
Not only in this room, the condition was similar in other burns wards of the hospital. There are around six to seven such wards in this premier government hospital.
Apart from the agony owing to the heat, doctors also stressed on the risk of infections in the absence of ACs.
Subhash Sah, a farmer from Madhubani, whose 16-year-old son Bhola Shah was admitted in room number 307, said: “My son has suffered around 35 per cent burn injuries. We have admitted him to this hospital. My son is in a miserable situation but I have no way out. The AC is not working and so are the fans. I have no money to admit Bhola to a private hospital. I am shocked that the hospital administration has no concern for the patients.”
A hospital official said: “It is nothing less than irony that ACs are working in the emergency ward on the ground floor of the same building, while even the fans are defunct in the burn wards (on the second floor). It seems the hospital administration is yet to understand that burn injury patients need fans and ACs more than the others.”
All calls by this correspondent to Dr V.P. Choudhary, the head of the plastic surgery department, went unanswered. The burns ward is a wing of this department.
However, a senior doctor of the plastic surgery department admitted that ACs were vital for burn patients.
“Apart from the suffering of patients, lack of air-conditioners increases the chance of infections. Owing to non-functional ACs and fans, patients would be forced to open windows increasing the chance of infections. Many problems in the burns ward require immediate attention. It needs to be sanitised from time to time but is not done. Not more than one attendant should be allowed in the ward but this rule is also flouted,” said the doctor.
He added: “There is a shortage of doctors in the department. There are only five medics in the plastic surgery department department handling emergency, outpatient department and the operation theatre patients. There is so much load on us (doctors) that these kinds of problems (referring to defunct ACs) go unnoticed.”