As it gets tougher to beat the heat in the city, many patients and their family members at the Government Hospital for Women and Children, attached to the Institute of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, at Egmore, can be seen lugging huge mineral water bottles around.
When enquired, one of the visiting family members alleged that no drinking water was available anywhere on the premises of the hospital for not just visitors but also the patients.
The unavailability of drinking water for patients is a cause of concern. A hospital nurse, when asked, said, “There is a shop just outside the gate. You can buy water cans there.”
Patients and family members accompanying them are compelled to buy drinking water from outside for the entire duration of the patients' stay at the hospital. The patients admitted at IOG come from economically weaker sections and find such expenditure burdensome. “Every time, we are forced to buy cans of water, and each costs Rs. 25. How long can we afford to buy so much water?” said Lakshmi, the mother of a patient from Perungalathur, who works as a coolie.
According to hospital authorities, there are stainless steel containers with attached coils to provide sterilised water to patients, along with four Sintex tanks that supply drinking water. Several patients, however, denied knowledge of any such steel containers on the premises. On Thursday afternoon, the Sintex tank located near the police station had run dry.
Shiela, a patient admitted in ward 21, said the problem was a long-standing one. “I had my first child in this hospital in 2010. Back then, too, there was no drinking water in the wards,” she said.
Patients admitted in the wards also complained of insufficient water supply in the toilets, especially at night. Sheila said, “On most days, the water supply stops in the evening and resumes at around 5 in the morning.”
An open drain located just outside the emergency ward is yet another cause of worry. Hospital authorities claimed the drains were cleaned periodically and the Public Works Department (Civil) carried out its maintenance works annually. Despite this, the drain was clogged and gave off a stench.
“The blockages are cleaned everyday by sanitary workers. But because of construction work on the premises, these blockages are inevitable,” said S. Jaya, the director in-charge.
(Names of patients and their family members have been changed to protect identity)