Adequate preparations have been made at state-run medical colleges and hospitals across Bengal to handle a sudden surge in the inflow of patients on election day.
The vigil on the part of the health department is in contrast to the claims by the State Election Commission and the Bengal government that the rural polls will be free, fair and peaceful.
On one hand, additionalinventories like mattresses and oxygen cylinders have been readied in these healthcare centres. On the other hand, additional doctors and paramedics would be deputed in some departments and quick response teamshave been formed for early medical intervention.
In Raiganj Government Medical College & Hospital, stacks of mattresses were seen in the corridors of the surgical ward on Friday, a day ahead of the polls.
“As per instructions from higher authorities, the mattresses have been brought out from the store and kept at the ward. This has been done to ensure that if patients requiring surgical care start coming, they can be provided prompt treatment,” said a source.
A private practitioner based in Raiganj said during the spate of violence witnessed since the announcement of the rural polls which has led to the loss of lives and left many people injured, it has been found that most of them need surgical and orthopedic intervention.
“We all aspire for a violence-free poll but the trends say otherwise. Even today, there has been violence in some parts of the state. That is why, it seems, such arrangements have been made,” said the doctor.
Kingshuk Maity, the SDO of Raiganj, however, came up with a different clarification. “Due to scorching heat, voters and polling personnel may fall sick. That is why all medical units have been put on alert. A similar alert is rung when major educational examinations are conducted in the state,” he said.
A health official posted at the medical college in Raiganj, however, admitted that the arrangements have been made based on reports from the state’s intelligence agencies.
“We have also formed a quick response squad which will have seven medical officers and five nursing staff in each shift. They will have a dedicated ambulance for their work,” he said.
He mentioned that in 2018, during the panchayat elections, around 30 patients with injuries – had reached the medical college within a span of two hours. “Thus, such arrangements are necessary,” he said.
In Jalpaiguri Medical College & Hospital, the authorities spoke of a three-level arrangement to provide medical care to people on poll day.
“To ensure that anyone needing medical care can contact us, we have launched a helpline in association with the police. In the second level, we have readied a rapid response team comprising doctors and paramedics from departments like surgery, orthopedic, eye, and ENT so early treatment is provided once the patient reaches the hospital,” said a source.
In the third level, facilities like X-ray and CT scan, needed for further investigation, will work round the clock. “Also, four CCU beds have been marked for emergency cases,” the source added.
There is a similar alert at North Bengal Medical College and Hospital — the largest state-run hospital in north Bengal.
In the emergency, there will be six doctors and if needed, doctors from other departments would be called in, said an official.
“We have adequate beds to handle a good number of patients,” he said.
In some districts of south Bengal like Birbhum, Hooghly, and South 24 Parganas, the doctors and paramedics have been asked to stay near the concerned hospitals and medical colleges where they are working.
“In case there is a rush of patients, they would be asked to report immediately even if they have duties in a different shift,” said a source.
Siddhartha Niyogi, the director of health services of the state, was brief in his remarks. “We have made it clear that all health services should be operational in each state-run healthcare centre across Bengal. The concerned authorities will have to confirm that no patient returns unattended,” he said.
Additional Reporting by Snehamoy Chakraborty in Calcutta