There were instances in the past when rodents literally fed on to bodies kept in at Government Medical College and Rajindra Hospital’s mortuary in Patiala. That aged facility had just one autopsy room; and foul smell emanating from the building was a nightmare. After years of public pressure, that “horror house” was finally demolished in February. A new one with facilities in consonance with Medical Council of India’s rules is still being built.
“For the time being, autopsies are being conducted in a makeshift arrangement near the gynaecology ward, in residential quarters that were vacant,” said forensic department head Dr KK Aggarwal. Twelve freezers have been put up there too.
Supervising the work, associate professor Dr Akashdeep Aggarwal said that with flooring already done, the new facility would be operational “by August-September”. That would have three autopsy rooms, besides one for decomposed bodies that require special forensic care. “We have also sent a proposal for setting up a cold chamber to easily keep unclaimed bodies and overnight post-mortem cases on stretchers; rather than storing them in freezers.” The autopsy room would have an attached, glass-enclosed gallery to allow students to witness live autopsies.
MANPOWER AN ISSUE
There remains a concern over shortfall of workforce to manage the new facility. For instance, there is just one assistant during operation hours. A department official said they play a “vital role” in preparing the body for autopsies before doctors arrive.
“We need at least three more assistants for optimum utilisation of the upcoming infrastructure,” he said.
Also, against a sanctioned strength of five senior resident doctors, the current deployment is two. Principal Dr BL Bhardwaj said recruitment process was underway: “We will definitely arrange the manpower before operation of the new mortuary.”