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This hospital is the patient

How many pregnant women share the hospital bed with another patient at the time of delivery? Well, if Deen Dayal Upadhyay (DDU) Hospital is where the delivery is taking place, chances are you will find more than just a few examples, reports Rhythma Kaul.

health and fitness Updated: Nov 03, 2009 22:53 IST
Rhythma Kaul

How many pregnant women share the hospital bed with another patient at the time of delivery? Well, if Deen Dayal Upadhyay (DDU) Hospital is where the delivery is taking place, chances are you will find more than just a few examples.

Twenty-five-year-old Sangeeta Kaur’s daughter was born on October 11 at the same hospital. And she doesn’t want to remember the experience.

It’s not the pain she wants to wipe off her memory.

The treatment offered by the hospital is what she wants to forget.

Kaur did not get a moment alone with her child after the delivery.

How could she? She was sharing the bed with another patient and was busy, jostling for space trying to keep herself and the baby from tumbling out of bed. “I was lucky, I just shared it with one woman. At times, the ward boys told me, three women share a single bed,” Kaur, a resident of Ranhola in West Delhi, said.

That was not all. Kaur was also immediately discharged — just one day after she had given birth — to make room for another patient.

As is evident, overcrowded wards and truant staff make treatment at DDU a traumatic experience for many. The doctor-patient ratio is a staggering 1:80 — one doctor for every 80 patients.

Set up in 1970 as a 50 bedded hospital, DDU currently has 500 beds, in addition to 140 beds for trauma patients. But addressing the medical needs of a whopping 3,000 patients on a daily basis, as it does now, the hospital has a lot of ground to cover.

Kaur, 46-year-old Chandra Deb

and thousand others, therefore, have to deal with not just the ailments but the crumbling hospital infrastructure too.

Chandra Deb’s story involves his 10-year-old daughter Geeta Kumari and her fractured leg. When HT met him on October 13, the labourer from Raghuvir Nagar in West Delhi had spent an entire day standing outside the dressing room, waiting for his daughter’s turn only to be told to come back the next day.

“We stood at the front of the queue but our turn never came. I wasted an entire day and will have to waste the whole of tomorrow also. I’m a daily wager and each day spent here means no income,” Deb said. He is the sole earning member of a family of eight.

Unlike the clinic, the pharmacy counter for pregnant women and children closed two hours before time. The board, declaring “maximum waiting time” was 20 minutes, looked sordidly out of place.


State health minister Kiran Wadhwa says the previous medical superintendent was sacked for non-performance. Give the new one some time, she says.

‘Things have got better at DDU’

The hospital is a mess. Why doesn't the government take action?
The abysmal condition of the hospital was what prompted me to suspend the previous medical superintendent (MS). The new MS,
Dr Narendra Singh, requires some time to fix things properly.

Why do patients have to wait so long to get treated?
It happens because of the shortage of doctors, and to deal with this problem, I plan to depute more doctors in the hospital.

Have you been told about the shortage of medicines?
Yes. I have asked the new medical superintendent to ensure there is no shortage. If people are being asked to buy medicines or other things from outside, or the internal pharmacy is closing before time, then it’s a serious issue. If it’s verified, we can take strong action against those involved.

Why is the hospital not following the rule for separate entry and exits for H1N1 screening?
If it has happened, it amounts to a gross violation and won’t be tolerated. But the MS of the hospital went on record to say that entry and exit for H1N1 screening was separate.

Why can't hospitals be kept clean?
I am seriously considering demarcating the medical and the administrative services in our hospitals.

Doctors have gone on strike three times in one year over security-related issues. What is being done?
The department of health has sanctioned enough guards to all the hospitals for the security of those working there. We had approved more guards for DDU too, and I am told things are better now.