Calcutta, Oct. 29: The city’s first citizen stormed the state-run SSKM Hospital today, threatening to make it go without the Calcutta Municipal Corporation’s garbage-disposal service for the “deliberate slight” he received from the hospital’s surgeon-superintendent, D.D. Chattopadhyay.
The “deliberate slight”, according to mayor Subrata Mukherjee, was Chattopadhyay’s refusal to admit a patient he had referred.
“I hope you understand what you are doing,” Mukherjee yelled at Chattopadhyay. “How dare you refuse a patient sent by the mayor of Calcutta'” he shouted at the top of his voice, in the presence of the director of health services (DHS), Prabhakar Chatterjee, before leaving after issuing the threat to stop garbage disposal.
At the end of the day, it was the surgeon-superintendent who was apologising, cringing at the threat of garbage piling up at the hospital. “I was just trying to follow the guidelines laid down while admitting the patient,” Chattopadhyay said. “I had no intention of slighting the mayor.”
It started around 11 am on Tuesday after a person met Chattopadhyay in his chamber and introduced another person (a neurological patient), Dipesh Roy, who “needed to be admitted” to the hospital. He reminded Chattopadhyay of a slip the mayor had sent five days ago, requesting admission.
The surgeon-superintendent, playing by the book, asked the person to take Roy to the outdoor department where specialists would check him before admission. “It is true that we forgot about the mayor’s referral, but I thought I was just following rules,” Chattopadhyay later said.
“I asked the man to complete the formalities before we admitted him.”
The gentleman, angry at the lack of response to the mayor’s letter, walked out of the room in a huff along with the patient. Mayor Mukherjee entered about 30 minutes later, accompanied by a few hangers-on. “How dare you refuse to admit a patient I sent'” was the first question he threw at Chattopadhyay.
Chattopadhyay, then hosting DHS Chatterjee who had paid a surprise visit to the hospital, was taken aback. “I never said that I wouldn’t admit the patient,” he fumbled. “I was just making sure whether the patient needed admission or not,” he tried to explain.
The mayor, further angered at Chattopadhyay’s “refusal to offer him a chair”, left soon but not before threatening to suspend conservancy services from tomorrow.
“This is not the end and I hope you understand what you are doing,” the mayor shouted, even as the DHS stared blankly at the mayor, trying in vain to pacify him.
The chastened surgeon-superintendent admitted Roy soon after the mayor left and contacted health secretary Asim Burman. A few hours later, he was busy drafting and despatching a letter to Mukherjee.
“I should not have lost my cool and I should have offered him a chair,” Chattopadhyay said.