Too many patients, too few beds in city’s govt. hospitals

Patients in Neurology ward of Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad on Monday, are seen lying on beds spread in floor in corridor on Monday. Such situation was observed in Nephrology ward too.

Patients in Neurology ward of Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad on Monday, are seen lying on beds spread in floor in corridor on Monday. Such situation was observed in Nephrology ward too.   | Photo Credit: Nagara Gopal

Patient care, hygiene compromised due to overcrowding; hospitals wait with bated breath for official sanction to increase bed strength

The stench from washrooms mixed with the typical smell of medicines hangs heavy at the post-natal ward of Gandhi Hospital here. And new mothers with days-old babies in their arms have no option but to bear with it.

The situation, however, is not unique to just that ward of the hospital. Hundreds of patients at Gandhi Hospital, Osmania General Hospital (OGH) and Niloufer Hospital are forced to put up with similarly inconvenient situations.

On any given day, the number of patients admitted to government hospitals is more than number of beds available. To accommodate the excess patients, additional beds are placed either in corridors, in between in-patient wards or simply crammed together in one ward. This adds to the suffering of patients who are already under physical and mental distress.

Officials maintained that government hospitals do not turn away patients. However, they are able to do little to minimise inconvenience.

A woman who delivered a baby five days ago at Gandhi Hospital felt nauseous as she was allotted a bed beside the washroom, said her attendant. “She wanted to leave as the smell was unbearable. Well, anybody would have felt the same way. For some time, we shifted her to an empty bed. Now, she has been allotted one a little away from the washroom,” added her attendant, requesting anonymity.

A patient with kidney failure admitted to the hospital has been allotted a bed in the Nephrology in-patient ward. A row of five beds are lined up in that corridor with no fan. “I have come here for dialysis, but given a bed in this sweltering corner. You can imagine how uncomfortable it can get on summer afternoons,” the patient said.

Crunching the numbers

The sanctioned bed strength at Gandhi Hospital is 1,012, but at any given point, there are around 1,800 patients admitted.

Similar stories of distress and inconvenience can be heard from patients at OGH and Niloufer Hospital, which also struggle to accommodate more patients against a limited bed capacity. While the sanctioned bed strength at OGH is 1,168, it admits around 2,000 patients. At Niloufer with 995 beds, over 1,400 patients are admitted.

The disproportionate ratio between sanctioned bed strength and patients admitted not only leads to shortage of space and basic hygience processes being given the go-by, but also handicaps doctors and nurses from allotting required time to a patient. Besides, funds allotted for sanctioned bed strength are parted with to meet medical expenses for the excess number of patients.

In OGH’s medical ward, beds are placed in the passageway making it extremely congested. Similar sights are seen in the in-patients (IP) wards on the first floor of the hospital IP Block.

Senior doctors at government hospitals said increasing the bed strength and allocation of more funds is one of the solutions to address the overcrowding problem.

“The proposal to increase bed strength is under active consideration,” said Director of Medical Education K. Ramesh Reddy.

OGH Superintendent B. Nagender echoes him: “The State government has already thought of increasing bed strength. The problem will be resolved when the step is taken.”

Deputy Superintendent of Gandhi Hospital G. Narsimha Rao Netha also said requests have been put forth to increase the number of beds since the hospital does not deny admission to any patient knocking on its doors.

Hurdles to new hospitals

During his last tenure as Chief Minister, K. Chandrasekhar Rao had, in February 2016, stated that four new multi-speciality hospitals would come up around Hyderabad. This announcement was touted as a solution to address overcrowding of patients in tertiary care hospitals in the city.

In fact, on January 23, 2017, the State government issued orders giving permission to engage consultants for preparation of plans and estimates for construction of 500-bed multi speciality facilities with 250-bed Mother and Child Health centres.

Following this, a committee submitted a feasibility report after inspecting land parcels at Victoria Memorial Home (L.B. Nagar); Mylardevpally-Rajendranagar; one beside Pet Basheerabad Police Station and another near Miyapur Bus Terminal. District Collectors concerned were asked to look into alienation of the lands.

“However, there were disputes related to the land. Since model code of conduct came into force in September 2018 for elections, there has been no progress. Works will resume after the code is lifted this week,” said a senior official from the Health department.

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 4:12:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/too-many-patients-too-few-beds-in-citys-govt-hospitals/article27429853.ece

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