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A hospital where kids come to play

It took a Rs 20 crore shot to inject lifeblood into once-dying Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalaya (CNBC), reports Jaya Shroff Bhalla.

delhi Updated: Feb 08, 2010 00:14 IST
Jaya Shroff Bhalla

It took a Rs 20 crore shot to inject lifeblood into once-dying Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalaya (CNBC).

Two years ago, the government-run hospital was a dank, nightmarish place-complete with stink, seepage-swollen walls and missing staff. Then came the grant from the government and the will of the management.

The Chikitsalaya healed.

Today stepping into the hospital after having travelled through overpopulated and ill-ventilated Geeta Colony in east Delhi is akin to entering a parallel universe, bright and airy.

The floors are spotless, the walls tattooed with cartoon characters, the corridors filled with friendly doctors. And the sound of children’s laughs.

“I can afford private care but my son likes coming here for the lively environment,” says Rajesh Kumar, 33, gesturing at the hospital’s toy-filled play area. Kumar has been a regular since his son Karan's birth four years ago.

“I have to pull him away from the play area,” says Kumar.

Kumar exercises the luxury of choice; but the revamped hospital's real gift is for those who have none.

Wrapped in a scarlet shawl, Puneeta Shukla (25) is a happy mother today. She has been frequenting the Child Development Centre at the Chikitsalaya for the last four months for the treatment of her 14-months-old son Golu.

Golu suffers from cerebral palsy, a disorder that affects muscle movement and motor skills — the ability to move in a coordinated way. To recover, he needs to be in constant care of a team of specialists, which include physiotherapists, paediatricians, orthopedic surgeons and occupational therapists.

In any private hospital, a single sitting would cost the family at least Rs 500 and could go up to Rs 1,200. Shukla’s husband NandKishore, an auto driver, makes Rs 200, on a good day.

As this is a government-run hospital, the child’s treatment is free of cost here. “I am grateful to my cousin who forced me to visit this hospital,” says Shukla, who has come to Delhi from dusty Lahorli in Basti in UP.

what it offers

For hundreds of children like Golu, the Child Development Centre — inaugurated in August 2009 — has been a bridge to a manageable world. The Centre aims to rehabilitate slow learners and children with disabilities, through physiotherapy and learning aids.

Today, the hospital offers all childcare treatment, barring cardiac and neuro-surgeries. “I would like to add those departments, but unfortunately we do not have any space,” says Dr K.K. Kalra, medical superintendent, CNBC.

the will to change

CNBC is the only Delhi-government hospital to have the National Accreditation Board for Hospital (NABH) stamp for quality control.

How was this turnaround possible? How did daily footfalls of 200-300 translate into over thousand a day?

Dr Kalra (55) says one method has been vigilance over staff. “The staff know they are accountable,” he says.

And his efforts are showing. The rising popularity of the hospital has forced the administration to expand it.

“We have just got a sanction to develop new waiting areas and a dharmashala for outstation patients,” says a beaming Kalra.