Medical equipment worth lakhs of rupees is gathering dust at Satara’s rural hospitals run by the state health department.
Operation theatre (OT) tables, lights used during surgeries and hydraulic tables have been cramped inside a tiny room, as the hospital for which this equipment was sanctioned is still under construction. The rural hospital at Debhewadi, 40 km away from Karad, which is chief minister Prithviraj Chavan’s home ground, has been under construction since 2011.
The operation theatre at Debhewadi’s rural hospital. The hospital operates from a municipal school made of tin sheets as the hospital building has been under construction (below) for the last three years.
According to state health department norms, a rural hospital should be a 30-bed facility with an OT, and should perform vaginal and C-section deliveries.
Two helpless doctors are posted at the hospital with no building and are operating from a municipal school built with tin sheets.
Five patients lie on the cots the hospital recently received under grant from the National Rural Health Mission. Next to the ward is the delivery room partitioned using a sari.
“If you see the delivery OT, you will say home deliveries are better,” warned a doctor before letting this reporter see it. Inside is an infant radiation warmer which neither doctor has the expertise to run.
In the absence of a gynaecologist, pregnant women are asked to go to the sub-district hospital in Karad. But doctors at the 100bed Karad hospital have not performed a single surgery in the last month because the OT complex is submerged. When HT visited the hospital, OT technicians, instead of assisting in surgeries, were mopping wet floors.
Hospital officials have kept buckets in the OT so the water does not damage the costly tables (Rs30,000-Rs50,000 each) and other equipment. But the rains are not entirely to blame for the shutting down of the OT.
“During construction of the floor above, labourers accidentally broke the water proofing,” said Dr Raju Shedge, acting medical superintendent of the hospital.
Even as construction of the new ophthalmology wing and sick newborn care unit (SNCU) are underway, the hospital has already received about 15 costly machines. “Any medical equipment is a machine.
If you don’t use it, there is a possibility that it will develop faults,” said a medical equipment supplier.
A doctor from the department said, “Half this equipment will be defunct till it is put to use.”
A source from the state health department alleged that the purchase of medical equipment is lucrative as suppliers give a cut between 15% and 30% to bag these contracts.
“Suppliers have to pay premiums to bag the contracts, so while making this equipment, they use low-quality material and the equipment doesn’t last long.”