Changes are afoot at the Government Royapettah Hospital (GRH) and the Stanley (SMC) hospital each of which offers specialised treatment for specific ailments, but basic facilities such as drinking water and sanitation continue to be a problem.

While the GRH does not have enough ventilators and the sports injury clinic has a long waiting list of patients, at Stanley hospital, patient-attendants want night shelters.

The GRH is the only hospital in the city with a dedicated convict ward, a facility that provides treatment for prisoners.

A fortified building guarded by the Armed Reserve Police headed by two Sub-Inspectors, the convict ward has 20 beds for both men and women. Inmates from the Puzhal prison and from prisons in other districts are treated here.

“It is very much like a prison. Doctors and nurses attend to convicts in the cell under our surveillance. Visitors are permitted to meet them occasionally after special permission from the hospital chief,” a Sub-Inspector on duty said. Prisoners with serious health problems are admitted here for treatment, he added.

Hospital superintendent K. Thyagarajan said the ward would shortly be shifted to the GH. “We requested for it to shifted, as we do not have all medical specialties here,” he added. A new building being constructed on the premises would add 120 beds to the hospital.

The Oncology Department would be moved to this building. At the Stanley hospital, A. Kaspar of Tiruchi has been staying with his wife for nearly eight months as his son is being treated for burns following electrocution.

“Only one person can accompany the patient, so we wait outside the hospital all day. It is very unsafe, especially for women, at nights as outsiders enter the hospital. Many of us have lost mobile phones, gold chains and money. A night shelter in the hospital premises will be of help,” he said. The quality of drinking water is also poor, another patient said.

In the surgical ward of the hospital, only two of four elevators are functional. As the elevator connecting the Institute of Social Paediatrics and the hospital (through another bridge and elevator) is not functioning, patients on stretchers are forced to be carried across the road.

Certain equipment in the hospital also need replacement. In the Radiology Department, the only CT scan machine available has frequent repairs, increasing the waiting time for patients. In some departments, hospital staff ask patient-attendants to help them out with errands, due the lack of assistants.

Ponarasi sits outside the nephrology ward cutting bandage cloth to size while her husband undergoes dialysis.