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Filthy floors to damp dungeon

Monsoon spells misery at Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences.

Patients, who as a matter of right occupy unclean floors of the overcrowded state-run hospital in capital Ranchi on any given day, are now being compelled to rest their ailing person in dank, dark and dirty storerooms with rainwater flooding ground floor wards of the sprawling complex.

Tuesday’s downpour once again hoarded hundreds into squalid rooms that are virtually incubation chambers for a host of diseases.

Maa ko diarrhoea ho gaya hai. Ab idhar bed to hai nahi; kidhar sutaye nahi samajh mein aa raha hai. Bahar to pani ka jhatas maar raha hai (My mother is suffering from diarrhoea. I don’t know where to put her; as it is, there is always a bed crunch at the hospital. And now, lashing rainwater has wet the corridors),” Bimal Kumar, who has come from Latehar, told The Telegraph.

The hospital, touted as one of the premier ones run by the Jharkhand government, boasts 1,089 beds. But, occupancy is far more on any given day because RIMS caters to medical needs of poor patients from several adjoining districts such as Khunti, Latehar, Hazaribagh and Ramgarh, besides remote hinterland of Ranchi.

On Tuesday, the hospital’s admission register showed 1,353 patients. The medicine ward was the most populated one. Against bed capacity of 187, there are 242 patients. Hence, the wards were houseful, the corridors flooded and the ailing sharing space with broken furniture and dirty, discarded cots.

Doctors pleaded helplessness. “We have no choice but to issue our no-objection to storeroom occupancy. Sick people cannot be turned away from a hospital, especially in this weather. They are managing and we are managing too,” one of them said on the condition of anonymity.

He admitted that diagnosing patients and treating them on the floor or in a storeroom was a challenging task, but alternatives were scarcely in plain sight. “These are mostly poor people who do not mind making themselves cosy on the floor. But for us, it is kind of punishment squatting every time to feel the pulse or use the stethoscope. The rains have made things harder.”

Another physician in the medicine department, who identified himself as J.K. Mitra, pitched in: “All I can say is that on doctors’ day we have pledged to serve people. It is more important that patients are comfortable because that is the first step towards recuperation.”

Officiating director of RIMS Dr S.K. Choudhary rued the way the hospital and the healthcare system in Jharkhand functioned. “Patients should be admitted according to bed capacity so that doctors can give them required attention. Tertiary hospitals should make efforts to treat common ailments and refer only serious patients here.”

On whether RIMS had any plans to ease troubles of “bed-less” patients this monsoon, he shook his head to say NO.