Efforts to make the hospital campus presentable are evident, but patients, the hospital authority says, are uncooperative. The manicured lawn is littered with plastic and bits of paper, the whitewashed walls stained with betel juice.
“Our sanitary departments are doing their job, but unless patients’ habits change, all efforts on our part will remain wasted,” the hospital’s medical superintendent, Dr Amit Banerjee, said.
So far, the hospital’s efforts at sensitising the public on cleanliness and safe waste disposal habits have failed to have an effect, he said.
“I am now thinking about imposing a steep penalty of Rs 200 for causing public nuisance within the boundaries of the hospital. This will include spitting, littering and also urinating in the open,” he said.
“The guards will be instructed to catch offenders and there will be cameras located to spot these people. And if hospital staff is caught in any of the act, they will be penalised even more, maybe even double.”
Unsafe bio-medical waste disposal
Only 40 per cent of the total bio-medical waste — plastic items like used syringes, cans and bottles — is being segregated and disposed by the hospital’s waste management department using an incinerator to burn body waste like blood and skin, and an autoclave machine to shred plastic waste.
The rest is either being mixed with the usual garbage or being pilfered out of the hospital and being sold at small medicine shops that repackage and sell them.
A shortage of coloured bins and polythene bags to segregate waste for disposal is adding to the problem. And the middlemen seem to be milking the problem to their advantage.
“I agree with the problem of shortage of waste bins and polythene bags, but don’t agree with the pilferage,” said Dr Banerjee.
He also said the hospital was in the process of issuing fresh tenders to solve such problems immediately.
“Lack of awareness compounded with carelessness is a big problem. All senior faculty and residents have been advised to train the younger staff including the class IV employees to ensure safe disposal practices,” he said.
Blood bank collapse
Lok Nayak Hospital runs a regional Blood Transfusion Centre (RBTC) that caters to the whole of north India. Its licence has not been renewed since January 2008 because the bank is understaffed.
For more than a year, the RBTC has been functioning at half its sanctioned strength.
The ideal staff strength to process 20,000 units of blood every year should be at least 21 technicians, but it has a staff of only 10.
This includes two laboratory technicians, three assistants, and five contractual laboratory assistants.
“There is a major problem of staff shortage. I have deputed a senior person to handle the work load and moved technicians from other departments to meet the immediate staff shortage,” Dr Banerjee said.