The Telegraph
Wednesday , January 25 , 2017

Capital Hospital's wheelchair dilemma

- Relatives carrying patients in their arms common sight at health hub

A wheelchair being used to transport a drum containing gypsum at Capital Hospital and (right) an attendant carries a patient at the casualty wing of the hospital in the absence of a wheelchair. Pictures by Ashwinee Pati

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 24: Capital Hospital has 200 wheelchairs but it's hard to spot even one.

It's much more common to see relatives and friends of patients carrying them in their arms. "It's very difficult to find a wheelchair at Capital Hospital," said B.K. Bhol, 35, contractor and resident of Khandagiri.

"I had taken my 78-year-old mother-in-law for treatment of a diabetes-related foot injury, to the hospital. When I looked for a wheelchair to take her to the casualty wing, there was none. I had to carry her in my arms," he said.

Several people visiting the hospital go through what Bhol did on a daily basis. Interestingly, there is no dearth of wheelchairs. Sources said the hospital has around 200 wheelchairs but most of them lie unused because they have been kept inside the hospital's storerooms or at places where they are least required.

"Wheelchairs should be kept at the entrance of the hospital so they can be used by patients' relatives. But this is not the case at Capital Hospital where empty wheelchairs can be found at places where they are not required," said Pradyumna Sarangi, 62, retired state government employee and resident of Jharpada.

The registration area of the hospital has a desk where people can seek help and information regarding wheelchairs. "The staff at the helpdesk are polite and ready to help but in emergency cases, you can't wait. You have to rush to the casualty wing. But, the entrance leading to the casualty has no wheelchairs," Sarangi said.

Philanthropic organisations or individuals donate most wheelchairs to the hospital. However, sources said that after a few cases of wheelchair theft were reported from the hospital, the authorities became wary of losing them and so kept them locked up in the stores.

Some have not been used even once. Finding a good stretcher, too, is a problem. In this case, while theft is not an issue, the stretchers' dilapidated state is an area of concern.

Another issue at the hospital is lack of ultrasound facility. Mahendra Swain, 35, sales professional and resident of Saheed Nagar, said ultrasounds were not being conducted at the hospital.

"I visited the hospital last Thursday to get my wife's ultrasound done but was told at the helpdesk that the facility was not available at the moment," he said, adding that he had to take his spouse to a private diagnostic centre at Unit-VI to get the ultrasound done.

While an ultrasound at the hospital costs Rs 50, the price ranges from Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 at private diagnostic centres and hospitals. Sources said the hospital does not have technicians to conduct ultrasounds.

Capital Hospital director B.B. Patnaik said the hospital was committed to providing quality health care to people. "I will look into the issues if they are brought to my notice," he said.

Patnaik said to provide better emergency services to people, the casualty wing of the hospital was being renovated. The casualty wing is now run from the observation ward.

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