Docs, cops say more needs to be done to improve force’s health

The city police hospital in Egmore is all set for a revamp, but there is little enthusiasm about it among stakeholders, as details about the proposed renovation are sketchy.

Even medical professionals at the hospital have not been briefed about what is going to happen.

According the city police’s website, the hospital began as a dispensary in 1963. At present, it is a “full-fledged hospital” with 40 beds and offers treatment for five medical specialties including screening for diabetes, eye and skin ailments and obstetric care.

The hospital is housed on the premises that originally served as the office of the commissioner of police, as early as 1882.

In 2009, the then commissioner of police K. Radhakrishnan, who launched a free master health check up at the Government General Hospital, promised improved facilities for the police hospital, but to date, these have not materialised.

Last December, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa allotted funds to upgrade the hospital. According to senior police officers, the department has forwarded a proposal for an estimated Rs. 80 lakh for an upgrade.

The hospital is expected to get equipment like ECG monitors as well as other diagnostic devices.

Many police officers however, admitted they only went to the hospital to get their leave sanctioned.

Even police officers who work at outposts in government hospitals said they did not go for treatment there. “It is better to go to a private hospital if there is a problem,” a sub-inspector at a city government hospital said.

One policeman pointed out how a few fire service personnel, who were injured in the Kalas Mahal fire in Ezhilagam in January 2012, were rushed to a private hospital instead of the Government Kilpauk Hospital, which is a centre of excellence for treating burns in the State.

According to doctors in the police hospital, they treat an average of 500 patients, including families of police officers, every month. Mostly the hospital is sought for simple ailments and basic tests during pregnancy.

Santhi, a constable’s wife, who had come for an ante-natal check-up, said she had been going to a private hospital but after the doctor diagnosed her with high blood pressure, she chose to come to the police hospital. “I am feeling better now,” she said.

Officers at the level of assistant commissioner have Rs. 25 deducted from their monthly salaries, towards medical expenses.

“Though funds are not a crunch little has been done to improve facilities,” a senior officer said.

Some suggestions include starting dispensaries in five of the city police quarters, particularly in the suburbs, to ensure that the police force and their families can access healthcare closer to home.

“At least 70 per cent of the police force has been diagnosed as vulnerable to diabetes and it is very important that we are offered services on a par with military hospitals,” the officer said.

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