The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Threats keep hospital employees away

Uncertainty looms over the Eastern India Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Hospital, with both the government and the authorities unsure about when the medicare centre will reopen its doors. On Tuesday, a gang of armed men ransacked the hospital’s out-patients’ department (OPD) minutes before it was to be inaugurated. Demanding free treatment at the OPD, the hooligans chased out doctors and employees from the premises.

On Wednesday, Trinamul Congress activists held a meeting outside the hospital, blaming the CPM for the hospital’s closure, and shooed away the handful of employees from duty. Hospital managing director J.C. Ghosh said on Thursday that the employees were “extremely nervous” and he was not sure if they would be able to function under such circumstances.

“The government has not been cooperating with us. Health secretary Asim Barman, who is also chairman of the hospital committee, does not take our calls or meet us. The councillors and MLAs threaten us. If this situation continues, we will have to consider aborting the mission after so much of investment,” Ghosh added. He said officials would attempt to open the OPD again on Friday.

Director of medical education C.R. Maity said: “The government will decide on the hospital’s future in a few days.”

Investigations conducted by the police revealed the healthcare centre, formerly Mayo Hospital, on Strand Road, had entered into an agreement with the state government in 1994 to reserve 150 seats as ‘free beds’ and implement the hospital project in several phases. “By the agreement, the hospital was handed over to the London-based J.C. Ghosh on a 30-year lease. It was planning to charge Rs 100 per patient, which the local people refused to accept,” said Dulal Chakraborty, officer-in-charge of Jorabagan police station.

According to Chakraborty, the hospital authorities had “flouted norms” by not implementing Phase I of the project. “They were supposed to open an intensive care unit, operation theatres and general wards first. Instead, they decided to start with the OPD,” he alleged. Ghosh, however, rubbished the charge. “Most hospitals open with an OPD and later expand to other departments,” he said.

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