Three government hospitals for a population of over 17 lakh, or one for nearly six lakh — that’s east Delhi’s ailing state of health care in plain statistics.
So, if you fall ill or meet with an accident in east Delhi, you either have to jostle with the unending crowds in overburdened government hospitals, pay through your nose at a private facility or end up rushing to Noida, Ghaziabad or even south Delhi in search of affordable treatment.The shortage of hospitals has put tremendous pressure on the only tertiary care facility, the Guru Tegh Bahadur (GTB) Hospital, and two district-level hospitals — the 100-bed Lal Bahadur Shastri (LBS) Hospital in Khichripur and the 200-bed Dr Hedgewar Arogya Sansthan in Karkardooma.
And for those who can’t afford private health care and are forced to go either of these hospitals, it’s a sickening story of endless wait to get treated.
Take the case of eight-year-old Muskaan Kumari who had to make several rounds to LBS Hospital to get her broken arm fixed.
"Two weeks ago, Muskaan fell and fractured her left arm. I took her to the emergency department where we had to wait five hours to see the doctor," said Priya, her 16-year-old sister.
That visit did not help Muskaan. “The doctor put a plaster but it did not fit properly and needed to be changed. It is our third visit in a week, but no one seems to be paying us any attention,” she rued.
Dallupura resident Muskaan and her sister were waiting for two hours just get the plaster cast changed when the HT team visited the hospital.
Both siblings had been turned away twice earlier as the doctors could not simply cope with the patient rush.
For instance, around 3,000 patients visit the LBS Hospital’s outpatient department every day. The bed-occupancy rate is as high as 200% — or two persons per bed. Victims of at least two accidents are brought to the hospital daily. Every month, victims of about one in four accidents are referred to GTB Hospital.
“We don’t refuse anyone but cases such as one related to neuro-surgery are referred to GTB Hospital. We try to discharge people as soon as their treatments are over to accommodate others,” Dr Adarsh Kumar, medical superintendent of LBS Hospital, said.
The 200-bed Dr Hedgewar Arogya Sansthan has tied up with a private imaging centre to get people with head injuries examined. “Though we don’t have a neuro-surgery team, we try to get CT scans of patients with head injury done before referring them to some other hospital to save time. We get three times the number of patients we can accommodate,” said Dr Rajesh Kalra, medical superintendent.
“To optimise our clinical functions, there should be a separate staff to take care of administrative work,” he added.The hospital gets around 2,500 OPD cases a day. Its bed occupancy rate hovers around 150%. On an average, the hospital gets three patients with head injuries daily, who are referred to GTB Hospital. The hospital has four operation theatres (OTs), of which one is meant to take care of emergency cases only.
East Delhi has only one big private hospital, Max, in Patparganj, offering all kinds of trauma facilities.
Residents complain that for even general treatment, they have to travel to hospitals in south Delhi.
“It is a crime to fall sick with dearth of good hospitals. The private hospitals are ready to milk you, but in the absence of any government hospital, we are left with no choice. It is a pain to travel all the way to AIIMS,” said H Ramachandran, a resident of Mayur Vihar Phase I.
CASE STUDIES | Readers' Responses
Seven-hour wait with broken thigh
Resident of Khichripur
Fifty-year-old Prabhat Ram, who was lying outside the emergency ward on a stretcher, had to wait for seven hours before he got a plaster cast on his broken leg at east Delhi’s government-run Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital.
The Khichripur-based family has been told that he would need a surgery to fix the broken left thigh bone. Before the surgery, however, a battery of tests was necessary.
“It is chaotic here. Doctors do not examine patients thoroughly but make only fleeting appearances. Getting a plaster for his leg took us nearly seven hours. As for the tests, we don’t know how long they will take. We would rather take him to a private hospital than see him writhing in pain like this. They have not even given him a painkiller yet,” Ram’s daughter Nirmala Kumari said. While the 23-year-old Nirmala waited with her father, her brothers were running from pillar to post for his discharge papers.
‘Totally lost’ and on their own
Resident of Trilokpuri
Kumar Raj, a resident of Trilokpuri, was lying unconscious in the emergency ward of Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital. He needed to take a neurology test as he had collapsed in his office in Noida on Monday morning. But because of a lack of facilities, he had been referred to GTB Hospital, about 10km away. “After he fell unconscious in his office, we took him to a private clinic in Noida but they sent us here. Officials here said they did not have a CT scan facility, which he needs urgently. They are not even providing us an ambulance to ferry him to GTB Hospital. I realise that we are losing precious time but we are
helpless,” said Mohd Akeel, Raj’s colleague.
His wife claimed that the doctor was not paying enough attention and they seemed pretty much on their own and totally lost. Raj was not responding to verbal commands.
No help 12 hours after crash
Sushma and Rajinder Singh
Residents of Ghaziabad
Sushma Singh and her husband Rajinder had been lying on blood-soaked beds in the government-run Dr Hedgewar Arogya Sansthan in east Delhi since Sunday night. The family was returning to their home in Ghaziabad late in the night when a truck hit their car from behind. Police brought the couple and their two children to the hospital, but family members claimed that even after 12 hours, no doctor had come to see them. “The staff was so callous that we did not let the children stay here and took them to get treated in a private hospital. The condition of my sister is quite serious and she has been bleeding profusely through her nose and one of her legs for hours,” Poonam, Sushma’s younger sister, said while she waited outside the ward with her mother and a cousin.
“No one has done anything to stop the bleeding. A nurse said Sushma might need a surgery that was not possible here. She could be referred to some other government hospital, but it’s already been three hours,” Poonam added.