The geriatrics department of Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital will soon have a full-fledged eight-bed intensive medical care unit (IMCU). The IMCU will be fully air conditioned and will have exclusive ventilators and defibrillators for its patients.

The funds for developing the IMCU have been provided by the Central government under the XI Five Year Plan to upgrade geriatric services across the country. The GH was chosen as it was the first in the country to launch geriatric services 40 years ago. Setting up an IMCU is just the next logical step, said B. Krishnaswami, head of the department.

The department received permission for the project from the State government and space has been identified for the unit in the geriatric ward itself, said GH dean V. Kanagasabai.

In April the department received Rs. 2 crore as the initial part of the sanctioned Rs. 5 crore to construct a building for the Geriatrics Department. The plan is to develop the department as a regional geriatric centre which will include specialty clinics for fall prevention, incontinence, memory and geriatric health promotion where patients would be taught yoga and meditation techniques.

The funds are part of a larger project to improve geriatric care in eight centres across the country. While other centres will concentrate on setting up a dedicated ward for the elderly, the GH already has a full-fledged department, including surgical care. The department has also received sanction for appointing three doctors, eight nurses besides paramedical staff, according to a senior health official.

“There is equipment to test patients at risk of a fall. Sophisticated machines like tilt tables are available to assess the balance of a patient. Such equipment will help us choose people prone to falling and train them for better health.

“Having such resources is necessary as it would mean that the older person also receives the same kind of care as a younger person,” Dr. Krishnaswami said.