| Student organisations stage a demonstration in front of Calcutta Medical College and Hospital on Thursday afternoon to protest the death of six-month-old Shabana Parveen, who was referred to but not admitted in the central Calcutta hospital on Monday. The rally, finally broken up by the police, held up traffic on and around College Street. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
Six-year-old Veerender has been languishing in the paediatric medicine ward of Calcutta Medical College and Hospital for the past seven days. His grandmother, always by his side, says ‘Veeru’ has been suffering severe abdominal pain for a week, but she doesn’t know why. “I took the baby for an X-ray, but no one is telling me what is wrong with the child,” she cried on Thursday.
But this grandmother’s voice of despair was drowned by the din at the Sishu Nivas Medicine ward of the hospital, struggling to cope with more than double the number of patients it can accommodate.
With 74 beds and more than 150 children suffering from fever and food poisoning, diarrhoea and severe cold, the four nurses on duty declared they “did not have time to explain everything to patients or their relatives” all the time.
Rokeya Banu, who had come from M.R. Bangur Hospital without “any referral slip” to admit her infant daughter, was left quite clueless about what she should do next and why, as nurses rushed around “without a second to spare”.
The chaos on Thursday afternoon was a grim reminder of what six-month-old Shabana and her parents, Ashraf and Naseema, would have run into on Monday, after being referred to the central Calcutta hospital by Howrah General Hospital. The Howrah hospital had, however, not informed Calcutta Medical College and Hospital about referring Shabana, as is the oft-neglected medical norm.
Nothing has changed in the chaos that is the paediatric ward of Medical College 72 hours after the death of little Shabana, even as the inquiry into the tragedy goes on. The hospital authorities declared they were trying to gauge the level of “commitment shown by doctors in trying to persuade Ashraf and Naseema” to get their daughter admitted.
“We will find out the effort made by the doctors in clearly explaining the situation, the seriousness of her ailment and the probable consequences,” said deputy superintendent A.N. Biswas. A three-member committee under medical superintendent Santanu Tripathy has been given a week to submit its report.
Director of medical education C.R. Maity said on Thursday that “a patient like Shabana must first be resuscitated before the question of referral or money for treatment arises… The effort from the entire medical staff must be 100 per cent.”