The anger and frustration among public was palpable during Punjab health minister Surjit Kumar Jyani's visit to the Lord Mahavira Civil Hospital on Friday.
As soon as the minister entered the hospital premises, people approached him in droves and bombarded him with grievances.
While majority of them complained of lack of equipment and facilities at the hospital, others rued unavailability of proper treatment. The grievances continued to pour in for over an hour until Jyani decided to leave the premises. This was his first visit to the civil hospital as the health minister.
A Tibba road resident, Kiran, told the health minister that her 26-year-old daughter had delivered a baby, who was now suffering from jaundice, but the staff was not paying attention to the baby's ailment.
"When I demanded proper attention, the staff bluntly told me to take my daughter and her child to another hospital if not satisfied here. Despite the scheme of free medicines, we are also being forced to buy medicines," she alleged.
A patient, Bahadur Singh, who claimed to be suffering from dengue, alleged that he was not getting the required treatment and blood, following which the health minister asked the officials concerned to look into his case.
The visitors to the hospital also complained to the minister about fleecing by contractor of the cycle/scooter parking stand.
Balwinder Singh, an attendant of a patient, alleged, "We have been charged `50 as parking fee for 24 hours at the stand on the hospital premises. This is injustice with poor patients, even as contractor has displayed `1 as parking fee on a hospital wall."
"We were helpless that's why we came here. In future, I will take loan for treatment at a private hospital, but will never come here," he complained.
Talking to HT, Jaswant Kumar, a patient's attendant, said, "The hospital was cleaned only before the minister's visit, otherwise cleanliness is never maintained. The authorities' apathy is reflected in the fact that dust and dirt continued to fall on patients while the cleaning of ward walls and ceiling was being done."
More complaints continued until the minister sat in his car to leave the civil hospital. Earlier, the minister visited various wards of the hospital and met patients. However, a few patients expressed satisfaction over the services.
In a bid to appease the minister, the hospital authorities installed a big board informing visitors about 24-hour services available here. However, services like ultrasound, X-ray and Jan Aushdi (drug store) are not available 24 hours. An official said more staff would be recruited soon to provide the services round the clock.
Hospital becomes 'non-silence zone'
The hospital, which is a silence-zone area, witnessed immense noise pollution after the driver of a vehicle continued to blow horn continuously while watering the road outside the labour room ahead of Jyani's visit.
Complaints to reach minister every two weeks
Speaking on the occasion, Jyani said a complaint box would be installed at the hospital. Any complaints dropped in this box would reach him directly every two weeks, he said, adding that he would try his best to redress all grievances.
'Prescribe generic medicines to patients'
On being told about medical representatives meeting doctors during OPD hours, the health minister said doctors should prescribe only generic medicines, which should be available inside the hospital, so that the patients are not forced to buy costly medicines from the market. If the medicine is not available inside hospital then the brand name should not be written.
'Hang photos of Guru Nanak Dev, burn incense sticks'
Jyani also asked the officials to hang photographs of Guru Nanak Dev in each ward of the hospital. He also directed them to burn incense sticks in the evening and morning to give refreshing environment to patients.
Health minister's promises
The minister assured to look into the complaints and provide better health services in future. He asked the hospital authorities to maintain cleanliness, and also directed them to remove wild grass from vacant spots on the hospital premises.
He also directed the officials to send a proposal for construction of a new room in the mortuary.
On being asked, he assured to conduct surprise visits at government hospitals, as this was his scheduled visit.
To avoid swapping of newborns, he directed authorities to increase security and start card system for entry of visitors.