Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Sambalpur, May 24:
Even after the state government accorded autonomy to the VSS Medical College and Hospital in Burla, the infrastructure at western Odisha’s premier referral hospital is in a shambles.
Last Thursday, a patient went under the knives with the light provided by mobile phone LEDs as the power backup facility failed at VSS Institute of Medical Science and Research (VIMSAR), considered to be the lifeline of western Odisha. As soon as the patient entered the operation theatre (OT), the power went off and the power back-up through inverter lasted only for an hour.
“The power went off minutes before the operation was about to begin. Then the power was restored due to inverter back-up facility. However, it lasted for an hour and the OT plunged into darkness. As the power genset was out-of-order, the staff had to conclude the surgery with the help of torch-light of the mobile phone,” said an employee of the hospital on condition of anonymity.
Notably, there is a common OT in the hospital for Surgery and Orthopaedic departments, which makes it more frequently used compared to other surgery rooms in the hospital.
Though there are two gensets installed in the hospital to provide uninterrupted power supply, they lie non-operational most of the times.
With the rising mercury having already made life miserable for people across the state, particularly in the western Odisha, frequent power outages have put the lives of the patients undergoing treatment at the hospital at great risk.
The official death toll due to sun stroke has gone up to 23 and the mercury is in no mood to plummet. The weatherman predicts the heat wave conditions would continue at least till June 1. There have been complaints of frequent power outages and dim supply due to increased consumption. In such scenario, the indoor patients in the hospital are the worst hit.
The defunct power back-up facilities have raised questions over the preparedness of the hospital authorities to deal with emergency situations.
“There are frequent power cuts here. The power back-up facilities are not working. We have reported this problem to the hospital Superintendent but to no avail,” an attendant of a patient alleged.
Almost all western Odisha districts are burning like hot furnace due to the searing heat wave. The poor infrastructure in the hospital has also caused inconvenience to the visitors.
“We have two generators in the hospital of which one is automatic and the other is manual. The automatic genset is defunct and no more in use and it takes 10-15 minutes to start the other one,” Superintendent of the hospital, Dr Laxmikant Dash said.
When the top official was asked about the poor health of the inverter, he replied: “We already have inverter. Where is the need to repair it?”
The callous attitude of the authorities has irked the denizens and intellectuals in the region.
“When the users’ fee collected from the patients can be utilized for engaging private security agencies, why the fund can’t be used to upgrade the infrastructure in the hospital?” a resident of Burla asked.
It may be recalled that three pregnant women had died at VIMSAR last month hours after undergoing Cesarean Section operation. The state Health Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak had blamed medicine side-effects to be the reason behind the deaths.