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From oxygen to medicines, everything depends on fate at Maharani Laxmi Bai Medical College Jhansi

The college, which runs a 700-bed hospital with occupancy rate of 95% in normal days, maintains a reserve of oxygen cylinders that could last for eight to 10 hours at the most.

lucknow Updated: Aug 21, 2017 15:38 IST
Haidar Naqvi
Haidar Naqvi
Hindustan Times, Kanpur
Maharani Laxmi Bai Medical College Jhansi,Oxygen supply,Bundelkhand
The medical college, which gets patients from seven UP districts and even Madhya Pradesh, virtually always struggles with fund crunch and staff strength.(HT File)

The Maharani Laxmi Bai Medical College in Jhansi, mainstay of Bundelkhand’s healthcare system having a 700-bed hospital in its belly, looks to be running virtually on ‘jugaad’.

It has a single vendor supplying the oxygen, mostly on credit. The medical college owed the sole vendor Gauri Gas Private Limited Rs 36 lakh, which included unpaid part of last year and supplies made this year. But as the tragedy in Gorakhpur unfolded, the medical college received funds from the UP government on August 14 and cleared the vendor’s bills up to June this year. What if the vendor had also suspended oxygen supply? Unlike BRD, Jhansi hospital had no backup plan.

Incidentally, even the contract of Gauri gas had expired in March this year and the fresh tendering process could not take place till date. But the company continues to supply oxygen cylinders to the medical college.

“Imagine if this vendors backs out over delayed payment; the college has no back up in place,” says a former doctor.

The college, which runs a 700-bed hospital with occupancy rate of 95% in normal days, maintains a reserve of oxygen cylinders that could last for eight to 10 hours at the most. The daily consumption of oxygen at hospital ranges between 120 and 150 jumbo size cylinders. And in case the fresh stock doesn’t arrive, it has a reserve of 25 to 50 cylinders.

Last year, the medical college received Rs 4 crore of the total Rs 6 crore earmarked. The money was spent on buying medicines, injections and chemicals. But the rest, roughly around 2 crore, lapsed. “That is the primary reason the vendor could not be paid on time; the payments were cleared when we received funds,” said college principal NS Sengar.

“We have cleared the bills up to June this year. I am with this college for the last 18 years and I haven’t seen any problem like what happened in Gorakhpur arising here,” he said.

Sengar, however, didn’t tell that the first thing he did after the Gorakhpur deaths was sending an SOS to the government for payment of Rs 36 lakh to the vendor, which is yet to receive the payment for July this year.

This medical college, which gets patients from seven UP districts and even Madhya Pradesh, virtually always struggles with fund crunch and staff strength.

No wonder, patients here have some complaint or the other. “We don’t get anything other than ointment from the hospital,” says Raghuveer Singh. His nephew Sahab was badly injured in a road accident and is hospitalized at the medical college for the last 23 days.

“You have to buy everything from outside, even items required in surgery. I bought surgical gloves for the doctors,” he says.

Patients also demand better hygiene on the campus and the wards.

“You know the Gorakhpur tragedy changed the scene a bit; we got clean bed sheets first time in months,” says Chandra Shekhar of Moth, Jalaun.

His father lost both his legs after he fell from a train. “When we arrived here, we didn’t get a stretcher. I had to search for it; imagine how much time is wasted when you have a serious patient with you,” he said.

Hospital sources say the equipment are also becoming gradually troublesome in the absence of maintenance.

“The college is managing it with 50% less staff and funds; almost no investment has been made to buy new equipment in years,” said sources adding, “You could say the entire medical college is running on jugaad”.

First Published: Aug 21, 2017 15:38 IST