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In queue for 4 hours, girl faints at NBMCH

July 31: A girl today fainted after a four-hour wait at the general OPD of North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri, the only referral hospital in the region for suspected Japanese Encephalitis patients.

The 20-year-old came to the hospital this morning with complaints of weakness, nausea and loss of appetite, not symptoms of JE.

Hospital sources said the medicine department has around 25 doctors and most were attending to patients at the medicine ward, where those with acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) and Japanese Encephalitis are admitted, and the fever clinic, an OPD to examine those with high temperature.

Today, Puja Seal reached NBMCH before 10am and lined up near the general OPD behind 550-odd people.

Around 1pm, when around 30 patients were waiting their turn, two junior doctors, who were posted at the OPD, left.

“Two doctors were examining patients since morning but they left around 1pm. My daughter is weak, has vomiting tendency and does not want to eat. So I brought her here. We have been waiting from 10am. When we were nearing our turn, the doctors left. Around 2pm, my daughter complained of dizziness and slumped to the ground,” said the girl’s father Nikhil Seal from Bagdogra, 20km from Siliguri.

A doctor at the male medicine OPD was called to examine Puja and she was admitted to the medicine ward.

NBMCH superintendent Sabyasachi Das said: “It is unfortunate that the patient fainted at the OPD. The two junior doctors at the OPD are post-graduate trainees. I will inquire about their absence. The girl fainted after a vasovagal attack, a common cause of fainting, because of weakness and drop in heart rate and blood pressure. She is stable.”

He added: “Normally, 150 patients are at the medicine ward but now the number is around 200. Most doctors are at the fever clinic and attending to those with AES or Japanese Encephalitis at wards.”

Today, in Cooch Behar, a 65-year-old farmer died of AES. Sushil Chandra Barman, from Helapota in Tufanganj, was admitted to MJN Hospital with fever on July 26. “Its is the first such death at the hospital,” Cooch Behar district magistrate P. Ulganathan said. “So far, 23 from the district have died. Twenty-two died after admission to NBMCH. Six had Japanese Encephalitis. Others had AES.” MJN Hospital sources said three persons are at the critical care unit with AES. One is from Dhubri in Assam.

At NBMCH, the OPDs are open from 10am to 2pm. Junior doctors said around five doctors, including two seniors, should be present in each OPD but only two-three junior doctors are in the OPD. “Senior doctors seldom visit OPDs. Although the timing is from 10am to 2pm, it usually stretches to 4pm. It is an ordeal to work without a break for almost six hours,” said a doctor.

NBMCH sources said 438 people had been to the fever clinic since July 21 and 37 are admitted. “No fresh deaths have been reported. The number of admissions has come down. There have been two admissions in the past 24 hours,” said a state health official.

NBMCH sources said there is a rush at the general OPD. “Patients with different problems visit this OPD first. Normally, more than 500 patients visit the general OPD daily. Today, there were nearly 600 patients,” said the source.