SOS from hospital

The Telegraph | Feb 12, 2020

Not even a year old, sadar healthcare hub ails

Barely eleven months after its inauguration, Dhanbad Sadar Hospital is hobbled by the lack of equipment and medicines, a crisis made worse by doctors and paramedics threatening to resign en masse if their salary dues are not cleared.

The two-storey hospital, constructed at a cost of Rs 9.07 crore in September 2018, is not even properly equipped to stitch up minor cuts or dress wounds, let alone provide quality healthcare to the poor.

The hospital is also plagued by a drinking water crisis that not only affects the patients, but also doctors and paramedical staff who are compelled to purchase packaged water.

To top it all, 57 employees of the hospital, which include 14 doctors and 43 paramedics, have not received their salaries for the last five months and are planning to put in their papers as a protest.

One of the practising doctors at the hospital said most of the doctors working here were either retired medicos of different hospitals under Bharat Coking Coal Limited or freshers who had joined with high hopes.

“But the hospital doesn’t even have an examination table for patients. In the absence of salary, we have been forced to spend all the money from our savings accounts. If it continues like this, we will have to resign en mass,” the doctor said on the condition of anonymity.

Another general physician said the 14 doctors could attend the hospital for only three days in a week because they were compelled to visit Atal Mohalla Clinics in different localities.

A paramedic, who works as a dresser, said: “I have not got my salary since October. I can not pay the school fees of my children and they may not be allowed to appear in the final exam.”

Hospital in-charge Dr Alok Vishwakarma said a meeting of the District Mineral Foundation Trust, which releases funds for the hospital, was held on February 8.

“At the meeting, headed by Dhanbad deputy commissioner Amit Kumar, it was decided that steps to ensure release of funds for the payment of salaries and purchase of equipment would be taken immediately.”

Construction of the proposed 300-bed sadar hospital, which began in 2009, was finally completed in September 2018 after the intervention of Dhanbad MLA Raj Sinha.

Though the hospital was inaugurated online from Tundi on November 2, 2018, it could not become operational in the absence of doctors and paramedics.

On March 10, 2019, the hospital was inaugurated for the second time with the deputation of four doctors from adjoining government hospital.

The district administration later carried out the appointment of doctors and paramedical staff through the District Mineral Foundation Trust in September.

However, out of 25 doctors who had joined then, only 14 doctors, including 1 orthopaedic and 13 general physicians, are currently working at the hospital.