Development pangs continue to plague the Institute of Social Paediatrics (ISP), the children's block of the Government Stanley Hospital, twenty years after it was established.
The Institute, which occupies only four floors of the eight-storey building that was constructed exclusively for paediatrics, receives around 1,000 to 1,500 children in its OP ward and admits around 150 children. The neurology, nephrology and dermatology departments are housed on the other floors of the building.
Unlike the Institute of Child Health, Egmore, the Government Stanley Hospital facility receives funding only from the government. ICH receives funding from NGOs and its alumni in view of the research it conducts whereas the lack of sufficient senior staff comes in the way of ISP pursuing research, hospital sources said.
Alumni of the Stanley Medical College to which the hospital is attached and former heads of the ISP say as there are not enough professors and assistant professors students move to other colleges and the Institute remains neglected.
According to P. Chandra, the first director of ISP who has since retired, the aim of the Institute was to develop a dedicated facility for children and improve research programmes. But the burden of outpatient treatment had rendered the facility being just another department. The building was commissioned in 1990 to cater exclusively for paediatric patients but over a period of time several departments have moved their adult patients to the building.
The Nephrology department runs its dialysis unit on the 7 floor; on the 8 floor the dermatology department has a special clinic, including advanced equipment to treat a variety of skin disorders. The neurology department occupies the 4 floor.
In a letter to the Health Department, Dr. Chandra has sought measures to improve the facilities at the Institute. According to her, efforts were made to start the speciality of radiology in ISP in 1990, but were not pursued.
“The plan was to develop paediatrics as a speciality but paediatric medical care is still in its infancy,” she says, adding that appointing retired professors and assistant professors following the norms that private medical colleges apply would ensure that there are enough teachers.
The ISP is an important facility for the residents of north Chennai and has played a crucial role in preventing diarrhoeal infections in children of the area.
A dedicated microbiology centre in the government hospital would help understand the types of organisms endemic to the region and treat the infections better, said a senior paediatrician practising in the Sowcarpet area and who was formerly with the Institute.
In terms of infrastructure, there are several things that need to be done, according to the doctors. There are four elevators in the building but patient attendants and visitors can use only one. Two of the lifts are out of service and one remains shut, patient attendants say. Visitors say there is a half-hour power cut daily during lunch hour. Patients and their attendants have to climb the stairs.
There is also a 10-foot deep pit that has been dug near the entrance to the ISP. The Public Works Department (PWD), responsible for the completion of the work, has put up a fence. According to hospital staff, the pit was dug to build a sump about two months ago. A senior staff member of the hospital said review meetings are held with the PWD staff every week, yet there has been a delay in completion of the work.
Medical Superintendent of the Government Stanley Hospital K.Authy said additional buildings were being constructed. On their completion, which would take six months, the medical wards for adult patients of nephrology, neurology and dermatology would be shifted there. The hospital had procured two new lifts which would be installed in the paediatric block within a fortnight, Dr. Authy added.