Too many patients and too few facilities: that has always been the theme song of Lok Nayak hospital, located in old Delhi's crowded heart, Daryaganj.
But the tone is beginning to lift.
6,000 patients a day still visit the hospital. 1,420 patients are still admitted on any given day for treatment in a facility with only 1,200 beds.
More operation theatres and buildings have become operational; the 27 acre campus has been cleaned up — in less than a year.
The changes are small but for one of Delhi's oldest — it opened in 1936 — and biggest government hospital, their repercussions enormous.
Lok Nayak hospital is finally getting off the sick bed.
“I have been coming to this hospital since my childhood,” says Naresh Chahan, 19, a rickshaw puller from Paharganj. “Things really got very bad in between but I can see positive changes now,” says Chahan, standing in the queue to get free medicines for his mother Santara Devi, 38.
It is not the addition of new facilities that has spurred the change, but just better utilization of existing resources.
Of five, three existing emergency operation theatres (OTs), which were a state of neglect for several years, were made functional three weeks ago.
“This has not only shortened the queues of patients needing surgeries, but also given departments their independent OTs,” says Dr Amit Banerjee, 60, medical superintendent, Lok Nayak Hospital, who took charge in June 2009.
Dr Banerjee has also got the work going for the orthopaedic building, which was approved in 1998, constructed by 2002, but never put to use.
“It is surprising that the building, which will add 450 beds to the existing bed strength, and other patient facilities was not commissioned until 2009,” says Dr Y.K. Sarin, HoD paediatric surgery and medical officer, security.
The building is set to be inaugurated sometime in 2010.
The understaffed blood bank — Delhi government's largest — was almost on the verge of shutdown. Then it got a new lease of life: the older, inefficient in-charge was replaced with two new heads, as befitted its mammoth size.
Ten more technicians were added to the blood bank in November 2009, doubling its staff strength.
If the bank got a fresh infusion, patients who were being bled dry for blood right at the hospital's doorstep too breathed a sigh of relief, with a crackdown on touts.
Till a few months ago, these touts would charge patients' families astronomical sums for a few units of blood.
“Since touts are most active between 8pm- 9am, no donor bleeding is allowed between that time,” says Dr Banerjee. “However, all patient in emergency are provided blood from the hospital. The emergency has to be certified by the duty doctor on the condition of blood replacement in the working hours.”
Its location, size and multiple gates
had become a major threat to the hospital’s security, with patients and their families walking in and out unregulated.
Over the last six months, the administration has closed several entry points and plans to install a biometric attendance system at six entry points by March. Lok Nayak will be the first government hospital in the Capital to install the biometric attendance system.
To prevent patients' families from roughing up hospital staff, 54 Close Circuit Television Cameras (CCTVs) have been installed, says Sarin.