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NDMC hospital in `shoddy' state of affairs

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Bindu Shajan Perappadan

NEW DELHI: Dubbed as the only super speciality hospital run by the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), Charak Palika Hospital at Moti Bagh in South Delhi went without the most basic of medical essentials -- sterilised cotton -- for over a month recently.

That, however, is no surprise, with this 150-bed hospital having to make do with malfunctioning life-saving medical equipment, including suction pumps in the paediatric department, and under-utilised equipment including defibrillator, ventilator and endoscopes.

Several essential medical tests like HBA1C for diabetics, culture for various infections including typhoid, tests for haemophilia, thyroid function test, hormone test and important cardiac enzymes tests like CPK, CPKMB essential for diagnosing heart attacks, blood gas analysis essential for patients admitted at the intensive care unit are not conducted for lack of necessary trained staff and chemicals for conducting the tests. While it is not just lack of funds that the authorities are blaming for the "shoddy" state of affairs in the hospital that caters to a population of only three lakhs, what they claim has broken the backbone of medical services here is the acute staff crisis for several years now.

Charak Palika Hospital functions with a staff strength that is less than what is prescribed as essential for running a 100-bed hospital by the Delhi Government. And while the NDMC did advertise and hold interviews to fill up vacant posts, recruitment has been put on hold compromising with the quality of health care being provided to patients coming here.

According to hospital records, several department here including pathology, skin and dental are functioning without specialists and many others have only one or two specialists on their duty register.

The hospital needs 25 specialists, but has only 14, of whom eight specialists are hired on contract. Also, of the required 39 general duty medical officers, the hospital has only 15.

The hospital also has no counter clerk for managing admission slips, social worker for helping and guiding poor patients and no statistics and records section with the records now being maintained by the ward in-charge. The emergency department is maintained by only two on-duty doctors. In case of a serious patient coming in for treatment, specialists staying far away are called for assistance thereby keeping the patient waiting.

What adds to the shortage is the fact that the Government does not account for shortages caused by annual retirements, which further bring down the number of doctors. While in 1989 the NDMC's medical establishments had 102 doctors above the general duty medical officer rank, at present the number has come down to only 79.

Meanwhile, medical staff from the hospital are also diverted for other medical activities including pulse polio camps putting further pressure on the existing strength.

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