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Saturday, Nov 16, 2019

Shillong’s NEIGRIHMS director must go: Khasi Students’ Union demands after patient death

Activists of KSU had on Monday locked Dr DM Thappa’s office after the death of a patient, saying that the institute is not a place for “murderers”.

india Updated: May 14, 2019 15:08 IST
David Laitphlang
David Laitphlang
Khasi Students Union (KSU) on Tuesday reiterated its demand for the immediate removal of the director of NEIGRIHMS.
Khasi Students Union (KSU) on Tuesday reiterated its demand for the immediate removal of the director of NEIGRIHMS.(Image for representation/PTI/File Photo)

The powerful Khasi Students Union (KSU) on Tuesday reiterated its demand for the immediate removal of the director of premier super-speciality North East Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Science (NEIGRIHMS) in Meghalaya’s Shillong.

Activists of KSU had on Monday locked Dr DM Thappa’s office after the death of a patient on Saturday, saying that the institute is not a place for “murderers”. A district magistrate, accompanied by police, later broke open the lock to the director’s office.

The latest incident came amid a row between Dr Thappa and the head of the cardiology department Dr Animesh Mishra at the healthcare institution, which caters to the entire northeast region and even neighbouring countries.

The union had said on Monday Dr Thappa should take full responsibility for the death of the 55-year-old woman, who died because of the non-availability of essential equipment to treat her.

“The loss of life at NEIGRIHMS reveals his barbaric character. We condemn this attitude and demand that the director leave the hospital immediately,” KSU president Lambokstarwell Marngar said on Tuesday.

“The director should be held responsible for any loss of life in the hospital. Previously, many doctors have resigned due to the disorder in the hospital,” he said.

Patients have been suffering due to the standoff between the two top administrators at the hospital.

On Monday, the Meghalaya High Court directed NEIGRIHMS’ cardiology department to file an affidavit on the reason that led to the woman’s death. It also directed the medical superintendent of the institute to ensure the supply of required items to the cardiology department without fail in view that 19 patients are waiting for surgery.

The order was passed by the division bench comprising of the Chief Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir and justice HS Thangkhiew while hearing a PIL against the hospital.

“The head of the cardiology department shall file an affidavit wherein in a chronological manner it must be stated as to how the patient was taken care of from 05-05-2019 when she was admitted in the cardiology department right up to her death with supporting proof,” it said.

The bench also expressed that it is quite unfortunate that in the process of working out a lasting solution to the problem and to meet urgent surgeries, nothing positive has been done.

Dr Mishra said in his affidavit before Meghalaya High Court on Monday that 19 patients were waiting for surgery and the requisite items are to be made available from Monday so that the surgeries can be performed.

The high court decided to intervene in the matter last week and directed NEIGRIHMS to work out a formula and ensure surgeries in the cardiology department are resumed. It also directed the state’s chief secretary PS Thangkhiew to depute an additional chief secretary to head a meeting to come up with a long-term solution.

The state’s health and family welfare minister AL Hek said that the internal problems of the institute must be sorted out and patients should no longer suffer.

“Since the new director was appointed we have received many complaints and if people are not happy, we can ask the ministry to replace him,” Hek said.

Recently, the NEIGRIHMS’ public relations officer accused the head of cardiology of conniving with a private vendor to sell stents at a high price, despite a cap imposed by the Union ministry of health and family welfare.

Dr Mishra denied the allegations levelled against him and said his department is open to an inquiry by any agency to clear the matter.

The death of the patient was condoled by the leader of the opposition Dr Mukul Sangma, who is also a physician.

“I am very disturbed and would like to condole the death of the lady who became a victim of this whole tamasha,” Dr Sangma said.

“We are happy that we are privileged to have NEIGRIHMS but what is happening today is that the state government lacks seriousness to ensure that this situation is resolved,” he added.

Thousands of patients come to the hospital every day as it offers services of multiple departments among which cardiology is said to have a very high success rate with low cost.