The families of poor patients who travel to Delhi from other states for treatment at Dr Ram Manohar Lohia hospital can now stay free at the brand-new 88-bed dharmashala for three or more days during treatment.
The building, which was inaugurated by Union health minister JP Nadda on Thursday, will give free shelter to families sleeping on pavements around the hospitals in the cold and heat.
The project, however, took more than two years to start after the construction of the building was completed in October 2014.
“There were delays in permissions and NOCs from DUAC (Delhi Urban Art Commission) and NDMC due to which the handover of the building from the CPWD to the hospital took two years,” said Dr AK Gadhpayle, medical superintendent of the hospital.
Meanwhile, people sleeping on pavement outside the emergency building and on the benches along the compound walls are a common sight at night inside RML hospital. Stranded in a new city without any relatives or money for lodging, many find themselves spending the winter nights like this.
The premiere hospital receives around 7,000 patients daily in its out-patient department, of which around 30% are from neighbouring states.
“The dharmashala, with the capacity of 88 beds, will not be able to fulfil our demands completely as we receive many patients from outside Delhi. However, it is a move in the right direction,” said Dr Gadhpayle.
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The complex has 32 single-sharing rooms, double-sharing rooms and dormitories that can be allotted to the relatives of a patient for three days, which can be extended on advice of a faculty member treating the patient.
The complex has a separate floor for the women, 24*7 security, and a free telephone service for local calling which can be used to communicate with people in the hospital. The facility was earlier supposed to have a cooking area as well. “We had thought of providing a gas so that people could cook their own food, but as many are not used to using a gas it might become a fire-safety hazard. So, we are trying to open a canteen instead,” said Dr Gadhpayle.
The dharmshala is located around 1 km away from the hospital on Mandir Marg.
To get free room, families of the patients have to provide an address proof showing that they live in other states and are in Delhi for treatment.