Pushed to the wall by the constant clamour for beds and better facilities at SKKM Hospital, the state government has worked out an alternative — a distress call divert.
Early 2004 will find the neighbouring Ramrikdas Haralalka General Hospital, in Bhowanipore, turned into a ‘link building’ of SSKM. All patients turning up at the SSKM emergency department will be shifted to Haralalka, barely a kilometre away, for immediate treatment.
If things go according to plan, two months later, patients with nephrological, neurosurgical and orthopaedic problems will be rushed to Haralalka for all necessary treatment.
“We hope this move will help us streamline the entire process of referral protocol and patient pressure,” said C.R. Maiti, director of medical education, adding that the government was finalising the project details.
With allegations of refusal and negligence rocking the state administration recently, SSKM had been ordered not to turn patients away. The move, however, backfired, as it created a space jam, in wards and corridors, and impeded treatment. The health department and the college council, after a marathon meeting on Saturday, decided to restrict admissions at SSKM.
“The decision had to be taken, sooner or later. There are patients with chronic renal failure or renal transplant lying on floors. They can spread infection in an entire ward,” said a college council member. “There are other hospitals with vacant beds, but everyone insists on coming to SSKM, so something had to be done,” he added.
Haralalka now holds out hope of some order being restored at SSKM. Grossly under-utilised for years, the hospital will be “overhauled” over the next two months to handle patients referred by the leading state-run hospital.
In a bid to ease the pressure on SSKM, the government has also asked adjoining Bangur Institute of Neurology to be ready to admit “referred patients with neurological problems”.
In another move, the government has decided to set up a new “emergency observation ward” in a separate building on the SSKM campus, where the PWD has been asked to start repairs.
The new emergency ward will be equipped with hi-tech, life-saving machines to cope with crises.
The government, it is learnt, is open to the idea of handing over the reins of the new unit to a private company.
For now, hospital authorities have made makeshift arrangements of “observing” all patients arriving at the emergency wing. This will be done at a special ward of the new emergency building, about 200 yards from the existing one, starting Monday.
“All patients arriving at the emergency ward will be observed for 48 hours by our team of doctors, before a decision is taken to admit or release them,” explained Santanu Tripathy, superintendent, SSKM Hospital.