100 beds, 1 patient; Punjab govt’s first drug-rehab centre needs stimulant

  • Usmeet Kaur, Hindustan Times, Amritsar
  • Updated: May 20, 2016 15:30 IST
Punjab’s first drug-rehabilitation centre lying vacant in Amritsar. (Gurpreet Singh/HT)

Inaugurated by finance minister Arun Jaitley in July 2015, Punjab’s first drug-rehabilitation centre, which cost Rs 5 crore, is left with just one patient in a sea of 100 beds.

The footfall at Swami Vivekanada Drug De-addiction Centre (SVDDC) of Guru Nanak Dev Hospital here has increased but few detoxified patients are being motivated to go in for rehabilitation.

Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had said that the rehabilitation centre would serve patients from the nearby districts as well but from an all-time high of 30, their number has just kept going down.

On Thursday, Amritsar deputy commissioner Varun Roojam, who is also head of the drug de-addiction and rehabilitation committee, sat his team down to make things work at the deserted facility.

He tried solving the issue between chief medical officer Jai Singh and Dr PD Garg over who would take charge of treatment. Dr Garg told him he had been running the centre fine until orders from director principal secretary of the health department transferred the charge to the CMO. “The members of the staff stopped taking me seriously and my job became tough. I need orders to take over again,” he said.

On the issue, CMO Jai Singh said Dr Garg was welcome to take over even at the Swami Vivekananda centre, which was under his operational control already. “He is also head of the psychiatry department at Amritsar Medical College that could refer detoxified patients for rehabilitation. I have, in any case, been transferred and new the CMO is due to join,” he said. The DC announced Dr Garg to take over again and revive

the count of patients. “I will write to the principal secretary for health that the doctor’s rapport with patient could motivate them to join rehabilitation,” he said.

Dr Garg said the Swami Vivekananda centre received 3,000-odd patients a month at 30 a day. “In summer, the number goes up. Now that I have the charge again, I’d be able to bring the patients back. Most of them have been detoxified of heroin (50%), opium, and alcohol,” he said. He called for mass awareness about the rehabilitation centre, besides activities and skill-development courses for the patients.

Private centres almost packed

Bhatia Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, a private detoxification facility in Amritsar, receives 100 to 120 cases a day in the outpatient department (OPD) and 140 coming in for regular treatment. It has 15 patients in indoor care against a total bed capacity of 25.

Another local private de-addiction facility Hermitage, which has 30 beds, has 28 rehabilitating addicts, including 19 fresh cases, all of who live with families and two counsellors. It newly built women’s wing can house another 25 inmates.

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