The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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From crime den to sick bay
- Salt Lake stadium dormitory to shelter outstation patients and kin

From being dubbed a ‘den of criminals’ exactly a year ago to a refuge for hapless patients who flock to the city for treatment every day, the infamous dormitory at Salt Lake stadium is set to don a new face.

Thanks to state transport minister Subhas Chakraborty, a few doctors and some like-minded patients, the dormitory will be converted into a shelter for patients and relatives,who do not have a place to stay and wait around in the open compounds of state-run-hospitals in the city.

For a nominal Rs 30 a day, a patient and his relative will be able to stay in the dorm and undergo treatment for as long as required, thanks to the efforts of Chakraborty’s ‘Friends of the Stadium’, which till the other day was accused of harbouring criminals. Minister Chakraborty told Metro “the project will be a boon for the helpless. We will start work on it as soon as possible.”

Every day, the radiotherapy wing of the Medical College and Hospital alone caters to over 300 patients, an almost equal number by NRS Hospital and Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital. A majority of these patients or their relatives do not have a place to stay in the city and are exploited by touts.

The Association of Radiation Oncologists of India, headed by Medical College and Hospital’s radiotherapy department head Subir Ganguly, played a key role in mustering funds for the project (Rs 4-5 lakh), along with Oncolink, a voluntary organisation for uplift of cancer patients.

“The kind of problems outstation patients face is mind-boggling. They are exploited by unscrupulous touts, who offer them shelter. Their worries will be over,” says Ganguly.

“A financially sound cancer patient has donated a bus, which will be used to ferry patients from the dormitory to the hospitals every morning and evening,” Ganguly added. Initially, around 100 persons will be accommodated. Every evening, the patients and their relatives will also be asked to attend awareness classes on cancer and other diseases like TB and enteric. The Shromojibi Hospital in Belur has agreed to provide help to turn the dorm into a home with proper infrastructure.

The move to set up a home for patients and relatives from the districts was made by Ganguly several months ago when he took up the matter with health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra. The health department, subsequently, agreed to allot a house in Beleghata, but the house was found unsuitable, as it needed extensive repairs. “Then, the sports minister offered us the dormitory. We readily agreed,” Ganguly added.

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