Ask them their name and some only nod their head or talk to themselves. They sit in dirty, tattered clothes in a corridor marked with a distinct stench of urine. These are the homeless patients at Ranchi’s Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), who have been left to fend for themselves and live a degraded life at the hospital.
At present, eight such patients have made this narrow RIMS corridor their home, with some living here for several years. They sleep on the floor with dogs, and in the absence of any attendant, are never bathed or even brush their teeth. However, they are given food along with other patients every day.
According to hospital authorities, many of these patients are mentally challenged and do not remember their addresses, making it difficult for the hospital authorities to send them home. Some were brought to the hospital by the police after they met with accidents.
One such patient, Ashok Aligarh, said he has been here for the past three months. He said that he has come from Bokaro. “My daughter lives in Kolkata but I do not know where. I will go home soon,” he said.
Dr AK Verma, assistant professor of medicine at RIMS said that they face difficulty in providing care for such patients. “We face problems as they cannot be kept with other patients as there is a risk of infection for others. The absence of attendants becomes a major problem for us. The nurses have to clean their excreta and waste,” he said.
“Since the corridor is closer to our section, we sometimes change their bed sheets if they are soiled and cover them if they are naked. If we bring them inside general wards, other patients complain of the smell and ask us to take them back outside. We are helpless,” said Betris Toppo, a nurse at the orthopaedics department.
A nurse, speaking to HT on condition of anonymity, said when a homeless patient is admitted to the hospital, the authorities write to higher ups, mentioning details of the patient and ask them to shift them to a separate ward, but no action is taken. She said that there should be separate facility for such patients but the general overcrowding at the hospital does not allow this.
RIMS director Dr BL Sherwal said the hospital had recently shifted six such patients to the Ranchi Institute of Neuropsychiatry and Allied Sciences (RINPAS, one of the oldest psychiatry institute and rehabilitation centres in the state capital. “We recently shifted such patients to RINPAS. If there are some who are still left, I will look into it and arrange for their transfer,” he said.