The dearth of ventilators in emergency wards continues to be of concern at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital. The hospital administration has initiated steps to reduce the stress on ventilators, which are used in the emergency wards throughout the day.

According to GH Dean V. Kanagasabai, the hospital has about 70 ventilators of which seven or eight are not in working condition. The 12 emergency wards with an average of 140 beds each are almost always full, as an average of 20-40 patients referred from private hospitals are admitted here daily.

According to a hospital source, “When doctors at private hospitals realise that the patient has less chances of survival and may not be able to afford treatment, they refer them to GH to be put on ventilators.” Many of the eight to nine patients coming to the emergency wards daily prefer the GH to government hospitals closer home.

The ventilators, costing anywhere between Rs. 5 lakh and Rs. 15 lakh, are often in need of repair. Exhaustive use of the ventilators and their handling by multiple users result in frequent shutdowns. The machines are often mishandled by inexperienced staff or patients’ relatives resulting in damage.

The Health Department came up with a proposal in March 2011 to allow heads of departments in government hospitals to e-mail the Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation about faulty equipment. The Corporation would, in turn, ensure repair or replacement, bypassing the long-drawn paperwork. The project never took off.

Under the Chief Minister’s health insurance scheme, the hospital has incurred Rs.13 crore as expenses toward treatment of patients and claims amounting to Rs. 6.87 crore have been settled.

“We have been trying to use our funds to carry out services at the hospital. We had approached State Bank of India for a donation and they have agreed to donate Rs. 10 lakh for two ventilators. The formal sanction for the funds will be complete within a week’s time,” Dr. Kanagasabai said. The ventilators are to be allotted to the emergency trauma ward.