For a government worried about the media’s intrusion into state-run hospitals, here’s a piece of ‘news’: the cameras and the correspondents do not have much to see.
Nilratan Sirkar (NRS) Medical College and Hospital, with the capacity to treat 1,600 patients at a time, is the largest state-run hospital in the state. And its cardiology department is one of the busiest around.
Around 4 pm on Tuesday, exactly 24 hours after chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee issued the no-entry fatwa for the media, the cardiology department of NRS had little to ‘show’.
“There is nothing to see and the hospital does not have anything to hide,” admitted a doctor on duty, adding that the no-entry rule, yet another “ineffectual prescription” for the ailing health sector, was “unnecessary”.
Doctors have to make do with broken monitors, which show only hazy images, without giving any reliable reading. “Why make a hue and cry about keeping the media out when even a dealer in medical equipment won’t come here to take away these instruments free'” asked a doctor.
Air to breathe in an emergency does not come easy either. For the 70-bed department (divided into male, female, an ICCU and an extension ward) housed on the fourth floor of the U.N. Brahmachari Building, that at any given time has around eight patients needing oxygen, there are only four cylinders. “We shuttle nozzles between patients to give them as much relief as possible,” said a nurse. At any given time, there are barely three nurses looking after 70 patients, forcing patients gasping for oxygen to await their turn.
Ever heard of an ICCU without air-conditioning' The NRS ICCU has two air-conditioners, both well past their prime and unable to cool the room with broken windows and uncovered ventilators. While the optimum temperature for an ICCU is 25 degrees Celsius, at NRS, the temperature in the ICCU is equal to that in the corridor outside, which easily crossed 30 degrees Celsius on Tuesday.
The department also “has two defibrillators”. But, again, they do not work. The 70-bed department has only two infusion pumps (through which life-saving medications are administered). A nursing home in a sub-divisional town has not been known to suffer from this level of want, admit doctors.
The available-list of medicines would make any average household proud of its emergency kit — the hospital’s cardiology department does not even keep aspirins, essential during cardiac attacks.
There’s more on the lack list — just three blood pressure-recording machines, with two of them giving faulty readings. “The media is hardly seen in our ward,” said a physician.
“While we wouldn’t like to see the media here, there are lots of things — like adequate oxygen, working pressure-reading machines and air-conditioners — that we would like to see,” he added.