Mamata Banerjee has urged private hospitals to be “humane” while dealing with dengue patients and advised people with fever and other symptoms of the disease to immediately visit government hospitals and civic body-run clinics.
“The symptoms of dengue are fever, pain in the back of the eyes, dehydration, headache, rashes. Shorir shukiye jaye (the body gets dehydrated). Immediately, the person has to be sent to a government hospital, where there are facilities for tests and treatment,” the chief minister said at a news conference at the state secretariat.
If patients were to depend entirely on government hospitals, they wouldn’t find a bed. Even SSKM, the largest of them, is referring patients to Sambhunath Pandit Hospital.
“We plan to increase the number of beds to cope with the rush. Till then, we have little option but to refer some of the patients to Sambhunath Pandit Hospital,” said Pradip Mitra, director of IPGMER.
Mamata announced that 50 beds were being added to MR Bangur Hospital to tackle the rush. She said all government hospitals and civic body-run clinics had adequate facilities to diagnose and treat dengue.
“Those who can afford the fees can go to nursing homes. I cannot stop them. But these nursing homes are doing business. I have no control over private hospitals. I request them to deal with patients with a human touch. They must get the tests done fast and start treatment,” she said.
Mamata’s advice to citizens and reminder to hospitals contradict what her cabinet colleague Firhad Hakim and mayor Sovan Chatterjee have said. Both have claimed that the incidence of dengue has been “blown out of proportion for the sake of business”.
Birbhum resident Prasenjit Pramanik, whose daughter studies in a college in Alipore and stays in a hostel, had a first-hand experience of the rush for beds in city hospitals.
“My daughter had high fever, so some of her friends tried to admit her to the nearby MR Bangur Hospital. There was not a single vacant bed there. We then decided to bring her to Birbhum and get her treated here,” said Prasenjit.
The government has contested some of the dengue deaths recorded at private hospitals, which is why there is a gap between the official and unofficial toll. Mamata said on Tuesday that the dengue toll in Calcutta was not more than three. The unofficial count, based on reports from private hospitals, is 11.
“I have made an appeal (to private hospitals), now I will see how they respond. Many of them are not diagnosing dengue properly. Death from cardiac arrest and stroke are being passed off as dengue casualties. This cannot go on. Death from dengue has to be confirmed before giving the death certificate,” Mamata said.