With no electricity supply, and the generator back-up system lying defunct for the last one week, this hospital in Balumath in Jharkhand’s Latehar district, barely 80km from state capital Ranchi, is really in a sorry state.
With no other options left, doctors there are forced to use mobile phone flashlights while operating on critical and injured patients in the dark.
On Wednesday night, as rescuers rushed two patients -- a mother-son duo -- injured in a bus-van collision, to the Balumath community health centre, doctors had to use mobile phone flashlights to take a look at them.
“The electric supply line has some faults and the generator needs repair. We have no other option but to somehow attend to the patients,” said Dr Purushottam, who attended to the patients.
Hospital staff, requesting anonymity said, “The medical officer in-charge, Dr Amarnath does not pay heed to the problems plaguing the hospital as he is missing from duty most of the time.
“We have apprised him about the power crisis in the hospital due to the defunct generator but he doesn’t pay heed. It is his duty to get things repaired.”
Hindustan Times found out that the medical officer doesn’t stay in Balumath, but in Chandwa and spends just a few hours in the morning at the hospital before commuting back in the afternoon.
The community health centre also faces a crunch of doctors. There are only four doctors posted against the sanctioned strength of seven.
Balumath, earlier infamous as a bastion of Left Wing Extremism, has a population of 89,012 with 9,812 people residing in the semi-urban block headquarters.
A local journalist, Sachchidanand Jaiswal, who accompanied the victims to the hospital on Wednesday, said, “I was shocked to see the patients being treated under mobile phone flashlights.”
“Patients were treated under candlelight in the Latehar hospital around a decade back. But in those days, power was a scarce commodity in this LWE hit area. Today, when the government claims to have provided 24x7 power supply to emergency installations with generator back-up facilities, such a scene was indeed shocking,” he said.
Latehar civil surgeon A Ekka admitted that there were lapses in the hospital’s functioning and attributed this to the lack of a dedicated building to run the hospital.
“We are somehow managing the Balumath CHC in a temporary shelter. We urgently need a full-fledged building to improve our services there,” he said.