Employees of Shushruta Trauma Centre, the only one of its kind in Delhi, think twice before attending to accident victims flooding the hospital.
It is not because of their reluctance to treat them. The reason is lack of water in the hospital. Worried about getting infected, doctors and nurses are using expensive hand sanitisers instead.
And this is the condition of a trauma centre which caters to approximately 70 patients and receives over 20 new cases every day.
Doctors at the 49-bedded trauma centre wash their hands before and after surgeries in toilets, instead of in disinfected washing area in the operation theatre (OT).
"The washing area in the OT does not have water supply. Four days ago, the situation was even worse," said a senior resident doctor. "This has been going on for four months. We can never be sure if we are curing the patient or helping him acquire infections."
Casualty in-charge Dr Alok Kumar added, "We have been managing somehow by getting tankers to supply to us water." For a city where on an average 25 accidents happen in a day (as per the 2005 figures), the trauma centre seems to pose more risk than provide relief.
Clean drinking water is also not available on the premises. "I got water from the temple near the hospital. They have water dispenser but it is very dirty and is not connected to AquaGuard," said Kumar, a relative of a patient.
Patients and doctors make their own arrangement for drinking water. Authorities have repeatedly informed executive engineers of the Public Welfare Department (PWD), responsible for the maintenance of pipelines in the area.
"I cannot remember how many times I have written to the PWD in the last one year. It is their responsibility to make water available to the hospital. Despite umpteen letters and meetings the problem has not been solved," said Additional Medical Superintendent Dr KD Mehta.
Besides private water tankers, the hospital has been getting water from an unauthorised connection to the line that supplies water to government flats on Bela Road. "The unauthorised connection has been there for years, even before I started working at Shushruta," sadi Dr Mehta.
Senior officials at the PWD say that they are not aware of complaints from the hospital. "We will look into it and do the needful. The complaints usually come to junior engineers but we have records. We will have to check it," said KS Mehra, Principle Secretary, PWD.