The only Super Specialty Child Hospital and Postgraduate Institute (SSCHPGI) in north India might shut down before it becomes fully operational as the on-campus residential accommodation for the faculty has been illegally occupied by senior officials of the Gautam Budh Nagar district administration. This has forced doctors to quit as they are finding it difficult to commute long distances.
The faculty of SSCHPGI includes doctors who are very experienced and have served at prestigious institutes across the country, including AIIMS in Delhi and Rishikesh, PGIMS in Chandigarh and Maulana Azad Medical College in Delhi.
SSCHPGI in Sector 30, which includes a residential campus, has been built at a cost of nearly Rs 701 crore. The estimated cost of the 312-bed hospital with infrastructure and equipment is pegged at Rs 1,500 crore.
However, two of the 29 doctors who joined the institute have already quit due to lack of accommodation. There is a requirement of 88 doctors at the institute.
Dr Faisal Ameer, who had quit Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial Medical College in Meerut to join SSCHPGI as an associate professor (plastic surgery) on December 21, 2015, quit on February 19.
“Despite assurance of on-campus accommodation in 15 days, I was made to stay in a guest house. After few days, they started charging me for lodging there. As part of my job, I can be summoned anytime round the clock but a 5-hour up and down commute from Meerut every day defeated the purpose. I was left with no choice but to quit,” Dr Ameer said.
Sources in the hospital said that a professor of radiology, who was finding it difficult to commute every day from New Rajinder Nagar in Delhi, also quit her post with the institute on March 31 as she could not be provided on-campus accommodation.
Of the 27 doctors who are at the level of a professor, associate professor or assistant professor, only five have been accommodated on the residential campus and that too in studio apartments, much below their entitled three to four bedroom units, for the last couple of months.
But it does not stir the authorities or the illegal occupants. “Two additional district magistrates, two DSPs, one joint director of income tax, one officer on special duty with an industrial development authority and some doctors and paramedical staff from the district hospital are not ready to leave,” a senior doctor with the institute said.
Confirming that one doctor has already quit and others are likely to follow suit due to the situation, SSCHPGI director Dr AK Bhatt said he wrote to the authorities concerned but in vain.
“Despite repeated reminders, things have not changed. I am not sure that a super specialty hospital, which could never have been dreamt of at a district level, is going to survive if we are unable to retain the doctors,” he said.
Echoing similar views, SSCHPGI medical superintendent Dr Shekhar Yadav said, “Fifteen doctors have applied for on-campus accommodation so far. We have accommodated only five, that too in units which are much below their entitlement. But we cannot throw out the other occupants. It is the duty of the Noida authority to get the flats vacated before handing over the possession to us.”
At present, doctors working at the child hospital are commuting from Delhi and Greater Noida. “It is 70-km up and down commute every day from Greater Noida to the hospital. There are scores of flats lying vacant in Gautam Budhha University and various inter colleges but the officials are encroaching upon our campus accommodation. Even our chief medical superintendent is staying in a private accommodation,” said Dr Dinesh Kumar, executive registrar, SSCHPGI.
The hospital has been funded by the Noida authority and transferred to the child hospital authorities in parts, over a period of time.
Rama Raman, chairman of Noida authority, said, “It is a serious problem. Some houses are occupied by the doctors working in the district hospital and some by government officials. Allotment to anybody other than those employed in the institute is barred. The flats occupied by outsiders will be allotted to employees of the child hospital when they get vacated.”
When asked about immediate action, Raman said a letter to the district magistrate and senior superintendent of police would be issued to get these houses vacated by their officials.
The hospital has started facilities for the outpatient department and admission. The departments of paediatric surgery, medicine, neurology, neonatology, gastroenterology, ENT, ophthalmology, orthopaedic surgery, plastic surgery, pathology, microbiology, biochemistry, radiology, psychology, dental surgery and physiotherapy have already been made functional. The operation theatres are to be made operational soon.