The death of D. Vignesh (16), who fell from the bathroom on the fourth floor of the government peripheral hospital in Periyar Nagar, Perambur, has opened a can of worms.
A visit to the hospital revealed that the 100-bed facility needs immediate attention. Though some renovation work is in progress, neglect is evident. The sunshades on the ground floor are damaged and cracks run from floor to ceiling in some walls of the building.
The ward to which Vignesh was admitted is at one end of the long corridor, with the washroom at the other end. There are two large empty wards on either side of the corridor leading to the washroom area, which has a dozen toilets. One ward has a few beds with dusty linen in it but the other ward is a large empty room. Even on Monday afternoon, only two functional tube lights could be spotted. A door has been fixed to the open shaft from which Vignesh fell to his death. The toilet which Vignesh entered is the third in the row.
On Monday, according to the details on the notice board there were 36 inpatients and around 350 persons had been treated as outpatients. Hospital authorities said that every day, they get 1,000 patients and during special OP days, for diabetes on Tuesdays and geriatrics on Thursdays, they receive around 1,000 more patients. Hospital staff said that ever since the facility was transferred to the Directorate of Medical Services (DMS) a year ago, its condition has been deteriorating.
The decision to transfer it was made based on the recommendation of the Medical Council of India to segregate hospitals not functioning as medical education centres. “Until the hospital was under the Directorate of Medical Education and the supervision of Madras Medical College, postgraduate student doctors used to come from MMC to inspect patients here. But now nobody comes,” a staff member said.
Medical staff members have also been steadily transferred, the employee said. When the hospital was moved to the DMS, there were 16 doctors but now there are only 11 doctors. Of the 45 hospital workers there are only 25 now and no new recruitments have been made, he said.
There was a proposal to upgrade the facility into a geriatric speciality sometime ago but nothing came of it. According to hospital authorities, surgeries are being conducted here. The hospital has specialities such as ophthalmologists, ENT surgeons, and obstetricians.
On Monday, health secretary J. Radhakrishnan visited the hospital and met with the officials in charge of the facility. Hospital authorities and health department officials, however, say funds are not a problem and the hospital is functioning well.