“No emergency service available except for eye (Monday, Wednesday and Friday), skin (Saturday) and dental (Friday) ailments.”
B.C. Roy Memorial Hospital for Children does not mince words when admitting facts, even though the ground reality may be contrary to what one expects of the state’s only referral hospital for children.
Things, however, were not always like this. A fully-functional ENT department served around 100 patients daily even a year ago; so did the eye department.
The orthopaedic department — doctors said the importance of this single department in a paediatric hospital could not be overstressed — tended upwards of 150 patients when it used to work every day two years ago, officers admitted.
Now, however, only the old signboards remain to remind patients, nurses and doctors alike of what the government had in mind when it turned B.C. Roy Memorial Hospital for Children into a referral hospital.
The room from which the ENT department functioned has now been converted into a surgical wing, but only for parents who can pay for their children’s treatment. The old medicine outpatients’ department, too, is a treatment-on-payment-only wing now.
But medicine and surgery, nevertheless, are the only outpatients’ departments that function everyday. The rest — dealing with eye, skin and dental complaints — are only open on particular days of the week.
That, too, depends on the availability of the doctor, as these departments function with only one doctor each.
Tapas Chatterjee is the only skin doctor. If he is absent on Saturday (the only day the department is opened), then the departmental room remains locked for all seven days of the week.
Alok Mitra is the lone doctor dealing with dental problems. Ditto here, except that this department opens only on Friday.
The emergency wing, again very important for a children’s hospital, has only one doctor and one nurse each, who have to look after 150 patients. And this, perhaps, is the only referral hospital for any category of patients which closes down its emergency wing after dark. The reason: non-availability of doctors and nurses at night.
The orthopaedic department stopped working long ago. “For a hospital claiming to treat children prone to falls and accidents, the importance of the orthopaedic department cannot be stressed enough,” a senior physician of the hospital said.
“We now gnash our teeth in frustration when we are forced to refuse simple orthopaedic cases,” he admitted, adding that the “pain” involved in refusing children treatment was two-fold. “Parents feel as much pain — if not more — as the injured children,” he explained.
Several “essential” instruments, doctors added, were missing, like the departments themselves. During a week when many of the deaths occurred in the indoor departments because of broncho-pneumonia, the outpatients’ department was having to “function” without a broncho-dilator, say doctors. The time has come for the government to strip B.C. Roy of the “referral hospital” tag, a doctor commented.