The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Exit doors thrown open
- Govt orders super gag, cop cordon as toll touches 18

It was Fortress B.C. Roy Memorial Hospital for Children on Wednesday, after three babies died in eight hours since Tuesday evening. Hospital superintendent Anup Mandal was told to shut up — and keep the doors shut, as well — by a government desperate for damage control.

The babies who died were identified as the two-day-old boy of Reena Chakraborty from Dum Dum, nine-month-old Shibananda Dutta of Basirhat and two-year-old Nandita Mondol from Burdwan.

But the focus on Wednesday was on the steady stream of discharges and the heavy cop cover in the hospital compound. The day’s patient exit figure, kept “secret on orders from Writers’ Buildings”, crossed 80 as the sole paediatric referral hospital in the state managed to bring down the number of patients within “manageable levels”. Late on Wednesday, the hospital had around 220 patients — down from 284 on Tuesday evening. Around 20 babies were admitted in the past 24 hours.

It was, clearly, desperate measures to tackle desperate times. Namita Pande, who had protested the appalling condition of the hospital on television, was hauled up by doctors. “Get your niece treated by the reporters to whom you complained,” they allegedly told Namita, handing her a discharge-certificate after making her sign a bond.

Two-year-old Saurabh Samaddar was one of the many patients discharged on Wednesday. Made to sign a bond stating he was willingly taking his son away, Tarini Samaddar left the hospital around noon, not convinced with the doctor’s diagnosis of tuberculosis. “My doctor in Nadia told me it was broncho-pneumonia,” he insisted.

There were, however, some who resisted the hospital’s move to show them the door. Gyanendra Biswas, whose eight-month-old son Nayan was admitted 10 days ago with pneumonia, refused to budge. Late on Tuesday, Biswas was asked to shift his son from ward no. 13 to ward no. 9, where he found no doctor and protested the callousness of the authorities. He was, in fact, preparing to leave the hospital — after spending Rs 1,500 on tests conducted in another clinic and signing the bond — on Wednesday morning when he was told that he would not be given the results of those tests. Biswas then refused to take his son away.

“The situation is not alarming. But things could do with some improvement,” was the cryptic comment offered by additional director of health services Dilip Chakraborty.

Besides the protective police ring around the superintendent’s chamber, there was another change that the hospital woke up to on Wednesday. Oxygen cylinders arrived in dozens through the day. But there was no change in the cries of protests or the sighs of helplessness.

(More reports on Page 17)

nCrib deaths: Three babies, between one day and seven days old, died on Wednesday at Nilratan Sirkar Medical College and Hospital. Superintendent Shyamal Kumar Rudra said they had been suffering from septicaemia and kidney diseases and the hospital was not responsible for the deaths of Jhuma Mandal and Halima Khatun, from South 24-Parganas, and Pritha Kar, from Cossipore.

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