Hospitals in Mattancherry and Fort Kochi worst affected
Government hospitals, especially the ones like at Mattancherry and Fort Kochi, are struggling to provide succour to the hundreds of patients due to an acute shortage of doctors.
On a normal day the Women and Child Hospital at Mattancherry has a patient crowd of over 300. Though on the rolls there are four gynaecologists, two paediatricians and four assistant surgeons, but there are also days when the hospital runs with just three or four doctors, when other doctors are on duty elsewhere (working arrangement) or are on leave or off.
There are few in-patients in the hospital that has about 150 beds. When a hospital has all the facilities and does not utilise it for the benefit of patients, the blame passes from the head at the local-level to the top of the ladder in the hospital administration.
The children’s wing, though renovated recently, looks congested and has little space for waiting area. However, the walls are tiled and the consulting rooms have been refurbished.
At the Fort Kochi taluk hospital, there are 11 posts but there are few specialists. There is only one consultant each in gynaecology, paediatrics. The orthopaedics consultant also has a working arrangement at Tripunithura taluk hospital. There are no posts for surgeons, ENT and ophthalmology. There is a post for general medicine, but is vacant.
Still, the hospital registers a footfall of 500 patients daily. And the complaints of the patients are most often about lack of doctors. Out of the 240 IP beds, occupancy level is at 40. “Who likes to be admitted in a hospital where there are not enough doctors,” said a patient who prefers to be admitted in a private hospital.
The hospital’s new swanky gynaecology wards too are empty. “It has been only a year since we started taking delivery cases here,” said a nurse.
The hospital head has been asking for creating a post of the chief medical officer and doubling the number of posts in the hospital to make effective use of the facilities there.
At Karuvelipady Taluk hospital, Fathima was waiting in the queue to get to see a physician for her sick son. “I usually go to the District General Hospital. Actually I’m coming here after a gap of 6 years. As all the tests are available in the general hospital, we feel more secure about getting full treatment procedures at one go. Here, if we do not give blood sample before 10 a.m., you have to come again the next day,” she said.
Another patient waiting at the casualty said: “It is the long hours of wait even on a day when the crowd is thin that tires us.” The doctors wrap up their duty even before the OP time gets over, he added. “They generally come up with excuses; things do not happen in an effective and timely manner,” said the father of the child who has been brought ill.
If the casualty gets four doctors, other doctors, especially the specialists can be freed up. Even as the 220-bed hospital gets an average OP of 500, the IP averages less than 100. Of the 15 posts, four are vacant and four are ad hoc appointments.