Punishment followed ‘crime’, but in a peculiar fashion, at SSKM Hospital over the past 24 hours.
Swapan Mandal, a patient with cardiac problems and a history of drug abuse, was refused re-admission on return to the hospital on Thursday. He had fled late on Wednesday. Reason for refusal: “He was okay and did not need any more treatment”.
Compounding matters further was a money matter — Mandal owed the hospital over Rs 1,200 for the past five days of stay (he was admitted on October 24).
A resident of Dattabad, in Salt Lake, Mandal started showing a craving for “at least soft drugs” from the day he was admitted to the hospital. Hospital officials, however, said this problem was detected after a couple of days, as Mandal’s family had not alerted the hospital. De-addiction experts at SSKM then kept a close watch on him, said hospital superintendent Santanu Tripathi.
Everything appeared “normal” —except an “enormous craving for at least ganja” — till Wednesday afternoon, other hospital officials said. “He was obviously in some discomfort, but it was nothing very serious,” one of them added.
Mandal, however, decided that five days of life without drugs was enough. He slipped out unnoticed on Wednesday afternoon, becoming the second after Asis Jana — who had bid a brief goodbye to being bound to a hospital bed before being brought back — to flee “the state’s best hospital” in a week.
After an unsuccessful search on campus, the SSKM Hospital authorities alerted Bhowanipore police station about Mandal. Officials there contacted every police station in the area and in Bidhannagar.
Mandal was spotted on the stretch near the Salt Lake stadium. He had passed out after an overdose and was hauled back to the police station. His family was called in and told to take him back to the hospital. But by the time Mandal got back to SSKM, the hospital had slammed its doors on him.
Tripathi himself told the emergency department to treat this as a special case and re-admit him if necessary, but there was no room any more for Mandal and after a couple of hours, he left the hospital — for the second time in 24 hours.
The government, meanwhile, moved swiftly to punish the post-graduate trainee who was responsible for transfusing blood beyond the expiry date to Ameera Khatoon. “We have asked Calcutta University to rusticate him,” health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra said, a few hours after Khatoon’s son, Amir Hussain, joined in a black-cloth protest outside the hospital.