The Gorakhpur tragedy and its aftermath

Crisis-hit Gorakhpur hospital staggers under patient load

No let-up in situation: A patient being brought for admission to the emergency ward of the Baba Raghav Das Medical College Hospital in Gorakhpur on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: V.V. Krishnan

Baba Raghav Das Medical College in Gorakhpur draws a large number of frantic families with sick children from places like Deoria and Khadda, 60 and 100 km away and even beyond, because local hospitals cannot give them intensive medical attention.

Alfaz, an infant brought by his mother Nesa Khatun, is one of them. The family has come from Khadda, in Kushinagar district of Uttar Pradesh.

“The doctors back home sent us here. This is the only option we had,” says the mother.

The BRD medical college principal, Dr. P.K. Singh, said that on a given day, about 200 to 250 encephalitis patients are under treatment at the institution, and the mortality rate is 7 to 8%. Infants and children are often brought on referral when their condition is already critical.

Sohan, who has come with his extremely ill newborn nephew, is from Deoria district and was sent to the BRD medical college by local hospitals that could not treat the infant.

Geeta Devi has camped outside the encephalitis ward for 17 days now, as her son, Siddharth Gautam, is treated. The 7-year-old has fared better than many others, after a spell of unconsciousness. He started walking around the ward. The woman cooks food on a stove she brought from home in Deoria.

On Tuesday, a family with a one-year-old with suspected encephalitis waited for three hours for a doctor to see the baby. They had arrived at 5 a.m.

The principal said 24 deaths had occurred in a span of 24 hours from midnight on Sunday in the paediatrics ward, but no details were available on the causes.

The U.P. Government-run medical college and hospital has witnessed the death of over 60 children in the encephalitis ward and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) from August 7 to 11.

The medical college caters not only to Gorakhpur and neighbouring districts, but also to Bihar and even Nepal. The focus has now turned to the probable causes of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) and the number of Japanese encephalitis cases.

The medical college celebrated Independence Day, with Dr. Singh hoisting the Tricolour and leading the staff in taking a pledge on Tuesday.

Around the campus, relatives of patients in the NICU and encephalitis ward waited outside for any news at all. Sohan, whose nephew was admitted to the NICU on Monday night a few hours after he was born, says he had no idea how the baby is doing.

“Every two or three hours I go and ask the staff if we can see the infant and if he’s okay. All they say is that he is serious and is being given oxygen. We heard about oxygen supply problems in the news. We don’t know what is wrong,” he says.

Geeta Devi says she did not know about any trouble with oxygen supply at the hospital. Her son, she adds, was given oxygen support for nine days.

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 5:27:26 AM |

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