Paltry power at PMCH

IAS officer takes charge as additional director, coal town heal hub generator backup not enough

By Praduman Choubey in Dhanbad
  • Published 23.06.18

Patients writhe in discomfort at the ICU in PMCH on Thursday when ACs were not working and (above) the generators with limited capacity. Pictures by Gautam Dey and Shabbir Hussain

Dhanbad: The 21-hour blackout at Patliputra Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) since Wednesday midnight has exposed a rot that runs deeper than it seems in the state-run heal hub.

The 500-bed hospital in Saraidhela lacks adequate power backup for its critical care facilities where temperature control is key to survival of both man and machine. Against a daily supply requirement of 600KVA, the generators at PMCH have a combined capacity of only 225KVA, which is grossly insufficient to run 25 air-conditioners.

Of the two dozen cooling machines, 13 service the special newborn care unit (SNCU) and two each are installed at the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), intensive care unit (ICU) and coronary care unit (CCU). The rest cover the chambers of hospital superintendent and medical college principal, among others.

Only three of the critical care ACs (one each at SNCU, NICU and CCU) are connected to the generators while one ICU air-conditioner has inverter backup for short durations of power cut. The storm-triggered power snag at 8pm on Wednesday sapped the inverter's energy within four hours. For 21 hours, till 9pm on Wednesday, four patients in the ICU writhed in acute discomfort. There were also three patients in CCU and 12 newborn children in NICU and SNCU combined.

The PMCH has three main generators of capacities 100 KVA, 75KVA and 50KVA. These are backup for various wards like orthopaedics, paediatrics, gynaecology and surgery, besides the critical care section and emergency.

There are four more generators - one of 100KVA and the rest of 12.5KVA each - that service the diagnostic section such as X-ray and ultrasound chambers, and blood bank, besides the dialysis unit.

The hospital also boasts a 200KVA solar power unit, but that hasn't been functioning for over a month owing to shoddy maintenance and charging.

A technical staff member conceded that generator backup was inadequate. "The 225KVA combined capacity cannot bear the load of 25 ACs and electrical equipment in the rest of the wards. So, only three ACs are connected," he said.

Hospital superintendent T. Hembrom said they were helpless. "We can't increase the number of diesel generators because running them is expensive. We are concentrating on boosting solar power supply instead to ensure uninterrupted supply to the ICU," he said, but in the same breath admitted that the existing 200KVA system had collapsed.

"My predecessors have written to the health department. I will write to the authorities once more in the wake of the recent power cuts during which critical care (and patients) suffered," Hembrom added.