GH to rehabilitate homeless patients

Members of the State Human Rights Commision interacting with officials during their visit to Ward 9 at the Thiruvananthapuram General Hospital on Thursday. Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar  

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, OCT. 7 . The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has directed the General Hospital authorities to draft a project for the rehabilitation of the homeless and elderly patients in its Ward 9.

The acting chairman of SHRC, V.P. Mohankumar, and the member, S. Verghese, who visited Ward 9 on Thursday, suggested that the hospital authorities could rope in voluntary organisations, various clubs in the city and the media, to help them evolve a permanent solution for rehabilitation of the destitute patients.

Mr. Mohankumar said the Commission could help in the implementation of the rehabilitation project once it was ready.

"The problem of destitute patients requires a permanent solution. Our short visit will not solve anything," he said. The Commission's visit was prompted by a petition filed before it by Niyama Sahaya Vedi, an NGO.

Lack of staff

The Superintendent of the hospital, Baby Zoya, and the RMO, Mahesh Kumar, pointed out that the hospital did not have adequate para medical staff to cater to the requirements of all its wards. There are 66 posts of grade I attendants, of which 53 are vacant. In the case of nursing assistants also, while the number of sanctioned posts is 121, the hospital at present had 56 vacancies.

In Ward 9, three home nurses appointed by the hospital development society and two head nurses are taking care of the 69 patients. The bed strength is just 49 and hence the rest are accommodated on the floor and in the verandah of the ward.

Most of the patients suffer from chronic diseases, while some are too old and bed-ridden. There are also those with ulcers, contagious diseases and psychiatric disorders. Less than 10 per cent of the patients have anyone visiting them from home. As for the rest, even those who recover from the illness have nowhere to go and hence cannot be discharged, Dr. Zoya, said.

Several voluntary organisations are doing charity work in Ward 9 and two such institutions are sponsoring breakfast and lunch for the patients on a daily basis, while the supper is being taken care of by the hospital, the Commission was informed.

Shifting of ward

The SHRC members pointed out that the ward was quite stuffy and that more ventilation may be provided. The ward is at present housed in a 100-year-old building, which has many infrastructural deficiencies, hospital authorities said. They said that if the Social Welfare Department could be persuaded to construct a rehabilitation home on the campus, the patients in Ward 9 could be shifted there and the hospital could take care of the medical treatment. The nursing superintendents in charge of Ward 9 told the Commission that the campus required a wire fencing to prevent vagrants from sneaking out to beg on the roads.