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Patiently waiting for a government hospital

Jaya Shroff Bhalla.

delhi Updated: Jul 21, 2009 23:31 IST

In the ’80s, SM Gaur — a Delhi government official — invested his life’s savings in a Mayur Vihar apartment. Two decades later, his choice of residential area cost him his life. Gaur died of cardiac arrest in June.

Neither of the two private hospitals in Mayur Vihar-Phase I — Kukreja Nursing Home and Jeevan Anmol Hospital — had the medical expertise to resuscitate him.

Four years ago, AK Jha, resident of Pocket IV in Mayur Vihar, had met with the same fate. “For about 30 minutes, we kept shifting him from one nursing home to another, but to no avail. He breathed his last in Jeevan Anmol Hospital, which did not have either ventilators or consultant doctors,” said Sanjay Nagpal, 39, a motorcycle dealer who lives in Mayur Vihar’s Acharya Niketan colony.

“We really need a good hospital, or we will keep losing people to lack of emergency care.”

Denied hospital-ity
Situated across the Yamuna, Mayur Vihar answered the middle-class’s prayers for affordable housing. But even 25 years after it came into existence, it lacks healthcare facilities.

There is not any government hospital in a roughly 15-km radius that spans Mayur Vihar and adjoining east Delhi neighbourhoods.

Together, these areas account for a population of over 10 lakh. Mayur Vihar alone has over 1.5 lakh residents.

No faith in privates
While there are a few privately-run nursing homes and small hospitals like Kukreja and Jeevan Anmol, the general perception of Mayur Vihar residents is that these are expensive and not good enough for emergencies.

Only last week, engineer Shailendra Verma, 40, fell off the makeshift rooftop of his house. When his wife Vibha, 38, called for an ambulance from Jeevan Anmol Hospital, it charged Rs 500 for the half-kilometre trip.

“While we do our best to treat patients for as little as Rs 30 in the out patient department (OPD) every morning, we do not have the money to expand the hospital the way we want to,” said Dr Neerja Sondhi, deputy medical superintendent and co-owner.

“We certainly need more government hospitals to ease the burden on small private hospitals like ours. While we are a multi-specialty hospital, we are not a super-specialty hospital.”

Basics ignored
Worse still, there are no Delhi government dispensaries in the area.

“Although Mayur Vihar-Phase II has six ‘pockets’, the government has not provided any healthcare facility. Private practitioners charge exorbitant fees. Recently, some doctors have raised their fee by more than 50 per cent,” said homemaker Veena Juneja, 50, who lives in Pocket C of Mayur Vihar-Phase II.

“There is a sizeable population of retired government officials in this area, but since the Central Government Health Scheme dispensary is located in Mayur Vihar-Phase I, they have to travel more than 4 km for treatment,” said Juneja.

The closest Delhi government hospital — Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital — is at least 9 km away. And it does not have a good reputation.“It is only bricks and mortar,” said Virender Banga, 41, a resident of Pratap Nagar in Mayur Vihar-Phase I.

And the biggest private hospital, Max in Patparganj, remains packed. “Beds are never available in an emergency,” said Rohini Gupta, 42, an interior designer living in Phase I.

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