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Health Minister ‘shocked’ during reality check at Odisha hospital

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 11:

The rug was pulled out from under the feet of the staff when Odisha Health Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak decided to conduct a ‘surprise raid’ on the hospital in Sundargarh district en route to Rourkela on Saturday.

Atanu Sabyasachi
Atanu Sabyasachi

Everybody was on their toes when Nayak dropped by at the Bonai Sub-Divisional hospital in Sundargarh district.

The minister was taken aback when he came to know that the health centre is running in the absence of gynaecologists. While one is on leave since past one week, the other is yet to report on duty.

Shockingly, the minister found that in their absence, pathologist Dr. Pundit Kumar Sahu is doubling up as a gynaecologist and managing the affairs in labour room as well as delivery of babies.

Besides, the hospital doesn’t have power back up facilities which is mandatory in hospitals with emergency facilities. The hospital suffers frequent power outages especially during summer. The patients are left to fend for themselves during power a failure as there is no generator to provide uninterrupted power supply.

The sorry state of affairs doesn’t end here. The free supply of medicines to the patients is not reaching the beneficiaries at the hospital. Instead, the medicines meant for free supply are stacked up in the hospital’s store-room.

“We are not getting free medicines. They are denying us medicines for which we are purchasing from outside,” a patient told the minister during his visit to the hospital.

The minister visited the medicine warehouse to take stock of the situation and found the pile of stocks dumped in no particular order. He picked a strip from the litter which was about to expire in two weeks.

Notably, medicines should be set aside four months before their expiry to avoid unwarranted trouble. However, the authorities were callous enough to adhere to the protocol.

On the other hand, the blood bank of the hospital looked quite impressive from outside. The unit was well-maintained, clean and organized. However, the emergency wing had only four units of blood in the stock.

When the minister asked how they would meet the demand during exigencies, the authorities had no answer which left the former fuming.

The relatives of the patients alleged that the staff are referring cases which requires surgery, including caesarean section delivery, to Rourkela.

It may be recalled that the state government had suspended as many as 57 doctors for refusing to join duty in remote tribal-dominated districts for years.

As per an estimate, nearly 200 doctors have not reported to their respective place of posting since long.

Where the state of healthcare facilities at a sub-divisional hospital is in a shambles, the amenities at remote and inaccessible areas in the state is anybody’s guess.