Hectic activity to get children’s hospital ready by November 14

Sudipto Mondal

It is scheduled for inauguration on Children’s Day

The hospital is primarily meant for below poverty line families

It will serve seven districts in Karnataka, two in Kerala

Mangalore: Health authorities appear to be running against time to meet the deadline for the inauguration of the multi-speciality children’s hospital on the Wenlock Hospital premises. The new facility aims to cater to seven districts in Karnataka and two in Kerala.

Named as the Infosys Advanced Paediatric Care Centre, as the building has been donated by the Infosys Foundation, the children’s hospital is scheduled to be dedicated to public on Children’s Day, November 14.

Although the inauguration may take place as scheduled, it appears unlikely that the centre would be fully functional by that time.

Built at a cost of Rs. 5.25 crore, the hospital is a swanky structure from outside. However, a look inside it reveals that it will be a government hospital, primarily meant for below poverty line families.

Dr. Shantaram Baliga, a professor of paediatrics, Kasturba Medical College (KMC), who has been in the thick of things on the project, says: “Running a facility of this scale calls for administrative and procedural streamlining. Making it fully operational straight away may not be possible. It has to be scaled-up, gradually.”

However, a senior medico-administrator, preferring anonymity, alleged that there was corruption in the tender process for procurement of equipment.

Staff and consumables were proving to be a stumbling block in the completion of the project, he added.

The laminar air flow system that will re-circulate the air in the Neo-Natal intensive care unit (ICU), and the paediatric ICU, are in place. The dedicated operation theatre for neonates (children below 28 days of age) and older children is nearing completion; and cots and furniture have arrived.

Free treatment

Dr. Baliga said: “The kind of treatment that may cost Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 1 lakh in private hospitals will be given free here for children from BPL families”. There is going to be a play area where children will be given toys to play with; the walls will be painted with cheerful cartoons and paintings; dormitories will be available for the parents of children coming from outside Mangalore; and there will be an information and education cell where both parents and children will be educated, counselled and imparted training in skills.

However, until the approval for the appointment of regular staff comes from the Government, the gaps that remain after the KMC’s paediatricians take over the hospital will have to be filled by contract staff (temporary) who have been recruited through private agencies.

Despite the deafening sound of construction work and the busy activities at the site, meeting the November 14 deadline looks like a touch-and-go affair.

Dr. J. Prabhudeva, District Surgeon, however, says: “The project is at the top of priorities and the work is being executed on a war footing for prompt completion”.

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