Today's Paper

Shifting facilities leaves the Vellore poor sick

VELLORE, MARCH 17. The 87-year-old Government Pentland Hospital (GPH) was not only a landmark here but also medical facility serving the poor people of Vellore and Tiruvannamalai districts all these years.

To them, the 541-bed hospital was a refuge for treatment of minor and major ailments, neo-natal care and orthopaedic cases. It also served as a trauma care centre, with an accident-cum-emergency block.

All these facilities vanished on December 9, 2004, the day after the inauguration of the 300-bed Government Vellore Medical College Hospital (GVMCH) building at Adukkamparai, about 10 km from here. Most of the infrastructure facilities were moved from the GPH to the new campus. Ninety per cent of the staff members were also shifted.

The GPH, named after the then Governor of Madras, Lord Pentland, who inaugurated the upgraded hospital in 1918, virtually wears a deserted look, with just one or two doctors, a few nurses and one or two attendants attending on patients.

The remaining facilities are an out-patient clinic, which functions with two doctors from 8 to 10 a.m., a depleted accident-cum-emergency service with one doctor working in shifts round-the-clock, the convict ward, the TB ward, the leprosy ward and the District Siddha Hospital.

The Casualty department just provides first aid to accident victims and refers them to the GVMCH. They have to go there on their own in the absence of any ambulance van.

The labour ward has 15 nurses, working in three shifts of five each, but in the absence of a doctor it is not able to treat complicated cases. They are referred to the GVMCH.

Opposition protest

The Congress, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and other Opposition parties staged demonstrations here recently urging the Government to revive the GPH. While the public and the Opposition leaders do not dispute the need for a teaching hospital for the Adukkamparai college, they question the wisdom of shifting almost the entire staff and infrastructure in the GPH. For, separate staff have been sanctioned for the GVMCH and funds allotted for purchase of new equipment. The Government action amounted to depriving the people of Vellore and surrounding areas of a facility that handled about 700 in-patients and 3,000 out-patients a day, said the public and Opposition leaders.

Asked about the fate of the GPH, the Collector, S. Gopalakrishnan, said the dean sent a proposal to the Government for setting up a full-fledged hospital on the GPH campus.

Dean V. Thamizharasi told The Hindu that she had written to the Director of Medical Education for sanction of new doctors for the GPH, which would function as a GVMCH extension centre.

The School of Nursing and the medical college students' hostel would be located on the GPH campus.

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