The Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) facility at the Heavy Vehicles Factory campus in Avadi is the nearest for hundreds of beneficiaries even in far-off places such as Poonamallee, Tiruvallur and Arakkonam. The dispensary was established in 2006 to cater to around 13,000 beneficiaries but lacks basic facilities and doctors.

Until a year ago, it had three doctors but now there is only one doctor and a specialist visits once a week. To reduce the burden on the doctors, only 100 patients are issued tokens a day. Previously, 350 patients used to come to the facility every day.

As a result, elderly patients, many of whom suffer from heart problems, diabetes and other chronic ailments, have to leave home as early as 5 a.m. to reach the health centre by 7 a.m. Since priority is accorded to those who are in service, the patients have to wait sometimes until noon to see the specialist. “They issue tokens to see the doctor. If we are late, then we must come back another day,” said C.Murugan.

Patients requiring further treatment are referred to CGHS hospitals in K.K. Nagar or Anna Nagar.

Consumer activist and resident of Pattabiram T. Sadagopan's queries under the Right to Information Act in this regard elicited the information that the Chief Medical Officer at the Avadi facility had been directed to ascertain the funds required for constructing a new building, including a laboratory. However, work on the building is yet to commence, says B. Gajapathy, secretary of the Ordnance Factories and Allied Establishment Pensioners' Association.

Noting that the response obtained under RTI stated that the proposal for the new building should be given by September this year or else the request for funds would not be entertained, Mr.Sadagopan said little was known about the status of the project.

According to the members of the Pensioners' Association, no effort seemed to have been made in this direction though the Heavy Vehicles Factory had allotted 4,000 sq.ft of land for the purpose.

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R. SujathaJune 28, 2012