As the State-wide strike by government doctors, nurses and paramedical staff entered the third day on Sunday, the desperation of patients was defined by the case of Venkatesh, a 30-year-old labourer, who died for the want of emergency medical care. Electrocuted at his worksite in Siddlaghatta in Chikballapur, Venkatesh was rushed to the Sidlaghatta taluk hospital from where he was turned back and subsequently, died at a private clinic.
In Bangalore, hospitals run by the Department of Health and Family Welfare wore a deserted look. At the K.C. General Hospital at least 66 patients were discharged as on Sunday evening. “There were 105 patients in the hospital on Saturday night. As on Sunday night there were only 39 patients left in the ward,” according to the hospital administrator.
The hospital administrator insisted that these patients were discharged after treatment. However, relatives of those who had stayed back alleged that patients were not being discharged but they were leaving to seek better medical care.
Uma M., who went into labour on Sunday, was rushed to the K.C. General Hospital in an autorickshaw only to be turned back. The family then rushed her to St. Martha’s Hospital where they were asked to cough up Rs. 15,000 for the procedure. “We had only Rs. 2,000,” said Anitha M., her sister.
A senior administrator at the K.C. General Hospital told The Hindu that there were two doctors and three administrators and 20 nurses working. But there was no gynaecologist.
At Jayanagar General Hospital, Kokila, who was delivered of a girl on Friday, said that a paediatrician had still not attended to the baby.
At the Yelahanka Government Hospital, even the emergency ward was locked.
The absence of doctors at hospitals run by the Department of Health and Family Welfare resulted in the migration of patients from economically weaker sections to hospitals run by the BBMP and the Medical Education Department.
Meanwhile, H.N. Ravindra, president, Karnataka State Health Department Officers and Employees Welfare Committee, ended his fast after seven days.
In Mysore, services in some hospitals were being run by contract doctors, though they were few in numbers. The strike has delayed post-mortems in government hospitals in Chikmagalur, where 28 doctors are on strike. Three bodies brought to the mortuary of the Chikmagalur district hospital (one of them was brought three days ago) are still awaiting post-mortem. The Jayachamarajendra Hospital mortuary has been conducting post-mortem of bodies sent from Hassan and Chikmagalur taluks.
An exception were the hospitals in Dakshina Kananda, where there was little disruption in medical services. District Health Officer O. Srirangappa said that the strike had little effect, with only the Belthangady Taluk Hospital noting a reduction in operations. “District hospitals have a tie-up with private hospitals, and services are unaffected. It is only in the Belthangady Taluk Hospital, which was facing a staff crunch, that operations have been limited to emergency cases,” he said.