'Health' in peril at tech haven - Nearest facility with trauma, neuro or cardiac care 130km from IIT Kharagpur

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By SANJAY MANDAL in Calcutta
  • Published 22.03.09

Calcutta, March 22: The town that hosts some of the brightest tech brains in the country has an ailing healthcare system.

The glaring deficiencies came to light with the death of Rohit Kumar, a third-year electrical engineering student of Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur who was allegedly left untreated for three hours at the hospital on its sprawling campus.

According to IIT students, the two-storey BC Roy Technology Hospital shouldn’t be ca- lled a “hospital” at all as it is only good enough for everyday ailments.

N.K. Som, the senior medical officer of the hospital who was suspended after the campus erupted following Rohit’s death, said: “We have some basic ICCU facilities but not advanced equipment such as those for CT Scan and MRI. There are no facilities for complicated cases.”

According to medical experts, Rohit, who fell off a rickshaw and sustained head injuries, needed prompt intervention — ventilation, medication and tests to diagnose the effect of the injury.

“Such facilities are available in hospitals with proper trauma care facilities…. We don’t have them here,” a West Midnapore district health official said.

Rohit could have got the much-needed medical attention had the state government been more committed to implementing projects on time.

In 2006, it announced plans to set up the state’s first trauma care centre in Kharagpur. The Centre provided Rs 1.94 crore for the unit that year itself, but it hasn’t been commissioned yet.

“The project has got delayed as the engineers planning and designing it took time. It is likely to be commissioned this June or July,” said Sanchita Bakshi, the state’s director of health services.

The trauma care centre promised on the first floor of Kharagpur Subdivisional Hospital would have radically changed the delivery of medical services in a region from where critical patients are referred to Calcutta, around 130km away, for treatment.

Other than the IIT facility, Kharagpur has the subdivisional hospital and another run by South Eastern Railway. District headquarters Midnapore, 20km away, also has the Vidyasagar Medical College and Hospital. But none of these hospitals has trauma, neuro or cardiac care facilities.

“The IIT authorities could have bridged the gap with its promised medical college but even that project has not taken off,” said a source in the state health department.

Realising the need for proper healthcare, the IIT had planned a 400-bed medical college at Hijli at an investment of Rs 500 crore.

Although the public-private-partnership project is yet to be formally scrapped, sources told The Telegraph that the plan for the teaching hospital had been abandoned as the IIT authorities did not agree with the terms set by the private investors.

“The authorities wanted the hospital to serve only the IIT community and so the project had to be shelved,” said the source.

An IIT official, however, said that talks were still on with private investors for the proposed hospital.