A woman doctor who blew the whistle on diversion of patients from Pennagaram GH relieved from duty

A female doctor, who blew the whistle on the diversion of patients from Pennagaram government headquarters hospital to a private hospital by an assistant surgeon of the Pennagaram GH, has since been “relieved of her duty” and moved to Harur government hospital.

A look at the turn of events in the last few days has revealed the play of sexism, veiled casteism and political interference in the functioning of the Pennagaram GH in the time of a pandemic.

On Tuesday, on nurses day, a handful of nurses “stood in protest” outside the Pennagaram GH alleging that a woman assistant surgeon(Gynaecology and Obstetrics) in Pennagaram GH had slapped one of the nurses. However, the officials concluded the allegation as false and motivated by an assistant surgeon (Ortho) at the same government hospital. On Wednesday, the ortho in question L. Sivakumar Senthil Murugan, DNB(Ortho) was “transferred on administrative grounds” to Krishnagiri government headquarters hospital.

The same day, J. Kanimozhi, assistant surgeon, Gynaecology and Obstetrics, against whom the false allegation was made by the nurses was “relieved of her duty and instructed to join duty at Harur Govenrment hospital.” The difference in the wording of the orders had also raised eyebrows among officials privy to the happenings. Incidentally, Dr. Sivakumar is a Caste Hindu, while Dr. Kanimozhi belongs to the Scheduled Caste.

Dr. Kanimozhi, in a letter dated March 23 to the Joint Director of Health Services (copy of which is available with The Hindu) detailed the malpractices under way at the Pennagaram government hospital. In the letter, along with annexure of memos of patients, WhatsApp chat transcripts, biometric punch in details, Dr. Kanimozhi had ramped up allegations against Dr. Sivakumar Senthil Murugan that included his diverting patients through private ambulances to a private hospital run by him; performing surgeries availing of the Chief Minister’s insurance scheme on such patients transferred from the GH, and later readmitting them to the Pennagaram GH; refusal to attend to outpatients or pregnant women and referring patients and deliveries to Dharmapuri government medical college hospital as a routine. Dr.Kanimozhi had stated that the deliveries fell in Pennagaram GH, which was highly equipped for deliveries. Further, the DNO had also alleged that 108 Ambulance of Pennagaram GH was hand in glove with the doctor, dialling up private ambulance to lift the patients off to the private clinic on a commission. The allegations included contemptuous comments against Dr.Kanimozhi , a senior doctor at the hospital, by Dr.Senthil Murugan, who was only two years old in the government service.

Against this backdrop, the medical administration concluded the nurses protests as stage-managed by the Dr. Sivakumar. However, the issue also flagged the inaction of the medical administration over the course of two years, when issues were raised against the doctor, leading to the current crisis.

“There are three to four files pending against the hospital (Dr. Sivakumar), highest for a district hospital in the last two years, and no action was taken. There were complaints from the patients, locals, and also from the local MLA,” said a medical department official requesting anonymity.

An official source at the Collectorate told The Hindu, “Dr. Kanimozhi is a very efficient, committed doctor, constantly updating the Collector on the child and maternal health at Penngaram GH. It is good in a way she was transferred to Harur, a SC majority area, where she would be safe.”

Asked about the “transfer” order of Sivakumar to another district headquarters hospital, instead of a disciplinary action, Dr. Sahaya Stephen Raj, Joint Director of Health, called it a “stop-gap arrangement to tide over the crisis.” “The Pennagaram hospital is a pioneering hospital in the State that had won the Kayakalpa award and the coveted NQAS award. This is to prevent further damage,” Dr.Raj said.

When contacted, a highly placed medical administration official, while alluding to the pandemic and political pressure as reasons for stalled action, also said, “the transfer was an administrative issue,” and that there was nothing to comment.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 10:25:10 PM |

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