Kolkata

Visva-Bharati takes action against chief medical officer

The Visva Bharati University campus. File Photo.  

The long-serving chief medical officer (CMO) of Visva-Bharati has earned the displeasure of Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty over what appears to be a trivial issue and now stands demoted, pending further disciplinary action.

At a meeting held on November 19, a decision was taken that a doctor from the university hospital (known as Pearson Memorial Hospital) should visit the Central Administrative Office daily and go desk to desk to examine the staff, in case they showed symptoms of COVID-19.

The decision itself was met with surprise by many, considering the hospital already has a fever clinic and anyone showing symptoms should go there or ideally isolate himself, rather than a doctor going from one workstation to another to detect possible infections.

Following the decision, Sasanka Sekhar Debnath, employed with the university hospital for 25 years and CMO since 2007, sent a doctor on November 20 to the administrative office to examine the staff at their respective desks. The doctor, once he returned to the hospital, was in tears.

“The doctor who went around the building is 57 and a senior staff, next only to the Vice-Chancellor in terms of grade. He felt like the boy who goes around serving tea table to table. He was not even given a place to sit or keep his belongings. He felt so humiliated that he broke down,” a source familiar with the developments told The Hindu.

The hospital — which has seven full-time doctors — decided not to send any doctor to the administrative office thereafter, a move that was seen as non-compliance of the Vice-Chancellor’s order. On November 25, a show-cause notice was served on Dr. Debnath, and on December 1, a circular was issued announcing that he was being demoted as a medical officer pending disciplinary proceedings against him and that Dr. Arindam Chatterjee would be in charge of the hospital for the time being.

According to sources, since the post of the CMO is a substantive one, the incumbent can be dismissed from service or divested of responsibilities but cannot be demoted. While it remains to be seen how Dr. Debnath, 58 and a product of JIPMER, responds to the action taken against him, disciplinary action against employees have become commonplace at Rabindranath Tagore-founded Visva-Bharati ever since Prof. Chakrabarty took over as Vice-Chancellor two years ago.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2021 1:54:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/visva-bharati-takes-action-against-chief-medical-officer/article33229233.ece

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