The Telegraph
Saturday , January 4 , 2014
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Ward for homeless wallows in neglect

A musty smell wafting all around, chilly winds gushing through broken windowpanes, rickety cots bereft of bedsheets, unhygienic environs and unmopped floors — welcome to the Besahara ward at Patna Medical College and Hospital.

A visit to this ward for the abandoned at the state’s premier health hub can be an eye-opener to the discrimination the patients face in the name of living.

The hospital administration started this special ward in the emergency building in August 2013 with a noble thought — to extend a helping hand to patients who have no attendants or family, for example, accident victims, beggars and abandoned elderly. However, the ward is now a picture of inhumanity, where patients are denied basic elements of a dignified life.

The ward was supposed to get nurses, sweepers and supporting staff but in reality, nothing of that sort happened. Two months ago, the ward was shifted to the Kaidi ward building. Two nurses take care of the patients in the morning now but leave them unattended at night. No sweeper or other Grade IV staff has been employed to look after the ward, forcing patients to live in unhygienic conditions.

Raju Kumar Pandey, one of the patients of the Besahara ward, said: “Doctors don’t visit this ward. Though we have been provided nurses in the morning hours, there is nobody at night. There are no sweepers or any other staff either, forcing us to live in unhygienic conditions.”

Mohammad Kallu (45), another patient of the ward, said: “Most windowpanes here are broken, allowing cold winds to blow unhindered. We are already sick. If we continue to live here, our condition might turn serious. The ward’s name is quite apt, because the hospital administration has totally abandoned us.”

Vijay Kumar, a social activist who keeps visiting the ward, said: “The hospital administration received around Rs 3.5 lakh to develop the Besahara ward. Vyasji, former principal secretary, health, inaugurated a dedicated cabin comprising 10-120 cots in the emergency building, on August 15, last year. However, two months ago, the patients of the Besahara ward were shifted to this Kaidi ward building. The emergency building facility was better than the ward here. Doctors don’t visit these patients. Few patients have been provided blankets that too of inferior quality. Nor is there any room heater. Around 8-10 patients died in the past two months because of the negligent authorities.”

Asked why the Besahara ward patients were shifted to the Kaidi ward building, PMCH superintendent Dr Amar Kant Jha Amar said: “We had to shift the patients from the emergency building because the cabin there could accommodate barely 10-12 patients. The number of patients was increasing by the day, forcing us to shift the ward.”

However, PMCH principal Dr N.P. Yadav, who is the chairperson of the committee supposed to look after the Besahara ward, claimed that the patients have been provided with every facility. “The only problem is that doctors are not visiting the ward. Earlier, it was not a problem in the emergency building. The room where the ward is running at present is far better than the earlier cabin. We have provided blankets to all patients. We had got complaints about bedsheets but that also was solved last month. As a precautionary measure against deranged patients, we have not provided heater in the ward.”

Yadav added: “I had put in a proposal to the PMCH’s Rogi Kalyan Samiti for recruiting separate nurses, sweepers and Grade IV employees in the ward. The members passed it but the hospital superintendent has not implemented the decision.”

Dr Amar countered: “Dr Yadav is the chairman of the Rogi Kalyan Samiti and he has to implement the decision. I am not responsible for it. Dr Yadav is going to retire soon. So he is talking crap.”