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Food for thought in hospital

The House did not get the right taste of Patna Medical College and Hospital food on Friday. Its meals are insipid and inadequate.

Half the patients do not get the diet — breakfast, lunch and dinner — they are entitled to in lieu of Rs 50. Those do, the quantity is inadequate. The least said about the food value is the best.

Water resources minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary claimed in the Assembly on Friday that the premier health hub serves food to 1,200 to 1,300 patients everyday. He made the tall claim while answering a query related to the food served at the government hospitals. He also claimed that patients were served fruits.

At ground zero, the picture is completely different. When The Telegraph visited the kitchen of the hospital around 12noon on Monday, the food cooked appeared to be inadequate for around 1,300 patients as the minister claimed.

One of the persons manning the kitchen claimed that the food had already been served in some of the wards.

When The Telegraph went to some of the wards to verify if the lunch was actually served, most patients claimed that no food was served after breakfast. Worse, a few claimed that they did not get to munch anything since their admission to the hospital.

Lalita Devi, a patient at the gynaecology department, claimed that she did not get any food from the hospital in the past three days. “I have not seen a single patient getting food from the hospital. I fail to understand why the hospital administration is not providing food to expecting mothers at the gynaecology ward. After giving birth to child, a woman becomes weaker because of blood loss during delivery and needs proper diet,” said Lalita.

A nurse at the gynaecology department, who did not wish to be named, claimed that she had never seen patients getting food.

Cut to Rajendra Surgical Block. Most patients going under knives here claimed that they were served only breakfast.

“Today (Monday), I got breakfast but I have not been given lunch yet. Yesterday also, I did not get lunch,” said Ashima Khatun, a patient admitted to a ward of the Rajendra Surgical Block.

The minister’s reply was not completely off the mark, though. Some patients do get lunch at PMCH. But the meal served is inadequate.

Sirf 100gm chawal milta hain. Pahle to 200gm chawal milta tha. Dal bhi pani jaisa hai, aur sabji bhi dhang ki nahi bani hai (Only 100g rice has been provided. Earlier, we used to get 200g of rice. Pulse is full of water and the vegetable has not been cooked properly,” said Avadh Ram (35), husband of Kabootara Devi, who is undergoing treatment in the hospital for the past one month.

In sharp contrast to the minister’s claim, fruits are not served regularly to patients. “Fruits are not given in proper quantity. The hospital’s breakfast menu shows that every patient would get a loaf of bread with an egg, six bananas, an apple and a citrus fruit. But apple and bananas go missing frequently,” said a patient.

The hospital superintendent, Dr Lakhendra Prasad, said: “You can understand what kind of difficulties we have to face in providing breakfast, lunch and dinner at a nominal rate of Rs 50.”

When The Telegraph asked why food was not being served in some of the wards, including the gynaecology ward, Prasad said: “We don’t serve food only to patients admitted in the emergency wing and ICU. In rest of the wards, food is served to all the patients .”