Wear and tear high as patients from other hospitals are referred to the GH
At Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital in the city, there is a perennial shortage of ventilators. The tertiary care hospital, which offers advanced surgeries, performs renal and cardiac transplantations, has a full-fledged 24-hour trauma centre and neurosurgery unit, struggles to maintain its ventilators.
Ventilators are used to help a person breathe effortlessly. They are needed post-surgery for patients who are given anaesthesia and for those who cannot breathe independently. Post-surgery patients may need ventilator support for a few hours depending on their condition but terminally ill patients cannot be taken off ventilator support.
According to hospital sources, some of the 78 ventilators in the hospital are not functioning. While the mechanical problem can be set right by the electricians and the technicians in the hospital, overuse of the equipment is an issue, sources say. In 2010, the hospital received a donation of 12 ventilators and later a few more were added.
The situation is only slightly better in the other three major government hospitals in the city. The Government Royapettah Hospital has eight ventilators of which two are on stand-by while the Kilpauk Hospital (KMC) and Stanley Hospital each have 20 ventilators. All of them are working round the clock.
In March last year, a proposal was mooted by the Health Department under which heads of department in the hospital could e-mail the Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation about faulty equipment. While the more expensive equipment such as CT and MRI scan machines would be maintained under an annual maintenance contract, the Corporation would ensure repair or replacement, bypassing the long-drawn paperwork. But the scheme did not take off.
Hospital Dean V. Kanagasabai says wear and tear is high as often patients are referred from other hospitals to the GH in terminal stages, requiring ventilator support. Also, the equipment is not handled by a single person and when the equipment falters if it is mishandled it could get damaged, he adds.
In January when the alumni of the Madras Medical College, which is attached to the RGGGH met, the hospital placed a request that the alumni contribute towards maintaining the equipment and provide, if possible, a few ventilators, Dr. Kanagasabai says.