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MGM’s expense blisters on burns

Rani Devi (28) of Haldipokhar, East Singhbhum’s Potka block, sustained over 40 per cent burns when her kitchen stove blew up on her this November. Husband Radheshyam Behera, a dhaba worker, got her admitted to MGM hospital’s burns care unit. Three months on, Radheshyam is compelled to pawn Rani’s ornaments to foot the fat bill — over Rs 50,000.

Arup Laha (26), a contract worker and resident of Sankosai, Dimna Road, Mango, was admitted to MGM’s burns care unit last December, again with 40 per cent burns. A month on, his elder brother has to chip in to pay his medical bill that has climbed to Rs 25,000.

Rani and Arup are not alone.

For the past two months, stories of financial stress — even ruin — faced by relatives of patients admitted to the 10-bed burns care unit of the Sakchi-based MGM Medical College and Hospital are rife.

The reason is frightening.

Though this is lone state-run hospital in Kolhan to have a burns care unit since 2007, it has no medicines and administers only intravenous (IV) fluids and saline to patients. This compels attendants of patients to purchase medicines from pharmaceutical stores, defeating the very objective of the state-owned hospital — free treatment for the poor.

Davai, yahan tak ki crepe bandage tak bahar se kharidna padh raha hai. Abhi tak Rs 50,000 kharcha kar chuke hain. Biwi ka sona gaon main girvi rakhna pada hai (We have to buy medicines and even crepe bandage from outside. So far, the bill is of Rs 50,000 for which I have had to mortgaged my wife’s gold),” Rani’s husband Radheshyam said.

Burns care department head Lalit Minz admitted to a crisis. “Ointments, antibiotics, iron supplements and vitamins have run out of stock,” he said.

“I have submitted the list of medicines required to the hospital officials who have sent the list to the purchase committee of the state health department, Ranchi. We are waiting for stocks and have no option but to ask patients to buy medicines,” he said.

Newly appointed hospital superintendent S.K. Choudhary said a private firm had been selected in the tender floated by the health department recently.

“The firm assured it would supply medicines — not just of burns care unit but all departments of MGM — by the end of this month. Medicines worth Rs 20 lakh will be delivered to the hospital soon,” he said.