A kitchen employee of Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) here was sacked for serving food on the floor to a mentally challenged patient undergoing treatment for a fractured arm.
Admitting the “grave error” on its part, hospital management sacked Chandramani Prasad, the kitchen employee. RIMS director Dr B L Sherwal said Prasad was found guilty of committing the act.
Deputy superintendent at RIMS, Dr Kumari Vasundhara said she could not imagine their staff doing such a thing.
“This is a serious lapse on our part and we accept our mistake,” said Dr Meenakshi Kumari, dietician and head of the kitchen department.
Munia Devi, a 60-year-old mentally challenged woman undergoing treatment for her fractured arm, was being served food on the floor for a month since she came to the hospital. She used to sleep on the floor of a corridor with five other homeless patients.
The matter came to light on Thursday after newspaper reports showed Devi consuming food served on the floor.
The state health department ordered a probe and a three-member team visited the hospital on Friday.
Jharkhand high court also took suo motu cognisance of the matter and issued notices to the state government, chief secretary, health secretary and RIMS authorities seeking response over the inhuman practice.
The chief minister has also ordered strict action against the guilty.
“The woman said she was being served food on the floor for the past one month. She said that she washed the floor with water every day before food was served there,” special secretary, health, Manoj Kumar, who led the enquiry team, said.
The enquiry panel directed the hospital management to shift Munia and other homeless patients to a separate ward and allot them beds.
The incident also brought to light the appalling conditions of the hospital’s kitchen department where 16 workers, seven permanent and 9 contractual daily wagers, cooked and served food for 1,100 patients every day.
Patients have repeatedly complained against the kitchen staff for sub-standard food and late delivery. The administration has now decided to privatise the RIMS kitchen.
Less than a week ago, a worker threw hot milk on a patient’s wife after she asked for her full share of milk during breakfast, causing minor injuries on the woman’s face.
“All the doctors and staff will have to be cautious and alert so that such incidents are not repeated in the future,” said Dr Vasundhara.