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KMC Burns Department in dire need of funds for upgrading facilities

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A woman, who burnt her palm, is undergoing rehabilitation at the Burns Department at KMC.
A woman, who burnt her palm, is undergoing rehabilitation at the Burns Department at KMC.

R. Sujatha

It is the only centre in south India for specialised treatment of acid and burn injuries

CHENNAI: For the hundreds of victims of burns and acid attacks, the Burns Department of Government Kilpauk Medical College Hospital provides some solace. But the overburdened department is woefully short on funds required to upgrade facilities.

The department is a referral centre in the State and is the only such centre in south India for specialised treatment of acid and burn injuries. “When the centre was started in 1981, we had 149 patients. Today, we receive over 2,500 patients a year,” said V. Jayaraman, head of the department.

The Burns ward lacks space, a specialised intensive care unit, ventilators and nurses. “Patients with burn injuries usually refuse to eat. Specially trained nurses are needed to care for them and ensure that they are fed. Ventilators are necessary for victims suffering from respiratory burns,” he said.

The hospital needs funds to buy splints used to prevent contraction of muscle and tissue after the wound has healed. A comprehensive rehabilitation is lacking as the hospital does not have physiotherapists, rehab counsellors and social workers, according to doctors.

“Rehabilitation begins at the time of admission to the hospital and should continue till the patient has returned to living a near-normal life and adjusted to the changed body image. This could take years,” Dr. Jayaraman said.

The department submitted a proposal to the Health Department for setting up a rehabilitation centre in 2005 and is still awaiting response.

Alumnus of the college and Congress MLA E.S.S. Raman raised the issue in the Assembly recently, urging the State government to develop infrastructure and upgrade the department into a research and training institute for burns.

“It is the second largest burns unit in the country and largest in the south India. It is internationally recognised. Two text books have been written by the doctors of the department,” Dr. Raman told The Hindu.

“It is a super speciality and undergraduate medical students are trained for three months and nursing students must undergo a month-long training in the department before passing the course. The physiotherapy students also receive compulsory training,” he said. Since it is the only such centre in south India, the government should consider upgrading it to an institute, he added.

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