Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, Jan 28:
With preparations for the Nabakalebara festival in Odisha’s Puri gathering steam, the healthcare staff crunch in the district’s government-run facilities has raised many questions over the state government’s preparedness should there be a medical emergency during the festival.
As per reports, over 60 specialist and 12 assistant surgeon posts in various faculties have been lying vacant in hospitals across the district since long.
With healthcare infrastructure rapidly upgraded, the patient intake capacity has grown three fold now. But it remains to be seen how the state government deals with the acute hospital staff crisis before the Nabakalebara festival.
A multi-storeyed hospital in the district headquarters hospital annexe with an estimated cost of around Rs 30 crore is expected to be functional before the Nabakalebara festival. Overall, Rs 50 crore will be spent on health infrastructure in the district. However, the staff paucity scene is no different at other hospitals in the district. There are vacancies of around 25 staff nurse and 11 laboratory technician staff in the district headquarters hospital, which is gearing up to deal with the huge patients’ inflow during the festival.
Besides, specialists in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O&G), medicine, surgery, ophthalmology, skin and venereal diseases, chest and tuberculosis, ENT (Ear Nose and Throat) and anaesthesia are yet to be recruited. In the absence of surgeons in the district headquarters hospital, the patients have to turn to other hospitals for surgical procedures as it does not admit patients requiring surgeries.
To everybody’s surprise, undergraduate doctors recruited on contractual basis make up for specialist doctors as posts of assistant surgeons are also lying vacant in the hospital.
The staff scarcity has also hit diagnostic services hard. Medical equipment worth around Rs 1 crore are gathering dust for lack of adequate technical staff in the hospital. Patients from across the district who depend on the district headquarters hospital are either referred to the Capital hospital in Bhubaneswar, SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack or private hospitals elsewhere. The poor patients thus have to incur unanticipated expenses for treatment.
‘‘We have written to the state government to fill up vacancies many a times. But, all our requests have fallen in deaf ears,’’ a hospital staff said requesting anonymity.
At least 60 lakh visitors are expected to throng the pilgrim city for the Nabakalebara festival in June this year. The health centres between Bhubaneswar and Puri —Chandanpur, Satyabadi, Pipili, Mangalpur etc—would play a major role in providing health care for the transit tourists. For this, the state government has sanctioned funds for upgrading the health infrastructure in these centres.
However, seven specialist posts are yet to be filled up since last five years in these periphery hospitals. The picture in Rebananuagaon, Kanas, Delang, Nimapada, Konark and Gop hospitals is no different. The ailing health services have become a major concern for people in these towns.
Car Festival being a much-celebrated annual festival, people’s representatives, officials and other members make a hue and cry during the Rath Yatra preparatory meetings. Surprisingly enough, it yields no results and becomes a regular feature in every preparatory meeting year after year.