A fortnight ago, a woman doctor was molested outside the burns emergency during the day. The accused misbehaved with her and fled. When she shouted for help, a few attendants caught hold of the accused and handed him over to the security. The corridors connecting the wards remain dark at night and there is no trace of security.
Two weeks after the incident, the corridors are still dark and desolate. Even the hospital staff find it difficult to move from one department to another. I run into a woman frantically looking for a patient in the orthopaedic ward. “I don’t know where to go, please help me,” she says. I told her I was just as lost as her.
“Molestation cases are common and women doctors and nurses don’t feel safe. We try to move in groups to ensure no one is alone, but it is not always possible,” said a nurse-on-duty. "We are doctors and we can’t possibly solve problems related to electricity and water. It is up to the Public Works Department (PWD) to look into the efficient functioning of the same. Last week, there were a few complaints after which Health Secretary Vivek Rae and the Chief Engineer of the PWD came for an inspection. Things are looking better since then,” said P.C. Dikshit, medical superintendent of the hospital. He added that all electric points have been repaired now.
No waiting rooms
Hospitals become second homes and families of patients occupy every ward, corridor and open space. “They move in with their mattresses, pillows, mosquito nets and stoves. Since most of them are poor people here for treatment from outside, they have no money for rest houses and hotels. The hospital has no waiting rooms, so these attendants end up making it their home till the patients recover,” said Dr. Mriganka Sharma, president, Resident Doctors Association of the hospital.
No security around
Most wards, including the nursery, are unguarded. “If someone steals a baby or exchanges them, whose fault will it be?” says a nurse.
At times, families angered by the death of a patient or delay in treatment attack the doctors and the hospital staff. “Six months ago, a doctor was physically assaulted after which the doctors went on an indefinite strike. Delhi’s Principal Secretary, department of health, Vivek Rae promised support within three months.
It is close to a year since the promises were made, but nothing has been done,” said Dr. Sharma. Events of attendants assaulting the doctors are common and no amount of protests or strikes have helped.
The administration is helpless. "If we ask the patients to follow the one-attendant-per-patient policy, they beat us up. We can’t do anything,” said Dikshit.