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Sunday, Dec 15, 2019

Patna hospital has no mortuary van, is short of ambulances

The family of noted mathematician Vashishth Narayan Singh had to wait at hospital for a couple of hours with his body.

patna Updated: Nov 15, 2019 09:25 IST
Ruchir Kumar
Ruchir Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
The Patna medical college and hospital
The Patna medical college and hospital(File Photo)

Patna Medical College Hospital (PMCH) does not have a mortuary van of its own even as the government has approved a plan to convert Bihar’s oldest medical institution into a 5400-bed state-of-the-art hospital over the next eight years.

The two ambulances it runs are also woefully inadequate, helping only the cause of private vendors, who continue to do brisk business.

PMCH’s administrators were hit by the stark reality on Thursday when noted mathematician Vashishth Narayan Singh died at the hospital and his family members had to wait for around two hours before the district administration could arrange for an ambulance for his body.

All this while, the 77-year-old Singh’s body was kept on a stretcher near the PMCH blood bank, giving television news channels a stick to beat the hospital administration with.

PMCH superintendent Dr Rajiv Ranjan Prasad, however, claimed there was not much delay in providing an ambulance to Singh’s relatives. Dr Prasad said their request had reached him late.

“The family members initially did not express their desire for an ambulance. As soon as they did, we made arrangements for one,” said Dr Prasad.

“I made arrangements within 15-20 minutes of having received information about the need for an ambulance,” deputy superintendent Dr Ranjit Kumar Jamaiyar said.

Jamaiyar claimed the hospital had three hearses, which were run through a private agency after an agreement with the State Health Society, Bihar (SHSB). Of these three, only one was functional, he said.

Dr Jamaiyar, however, did not offer an explanation about the location of the lone mortuary van when it was needed to carry the mathematician’s body.

“While one mortuary van is unserviceable for want of repairs, the police recently impounded the other after it was found plying on roads without valid registration papers,” he said.

The hospital’s administrators claimed that they had requested for at least two to three more ambulances and five to six mortuary vans to SHSB’s executive director with a copy of the request to the Patna civil surgeon on many previous occasions, but to no avail.

“PMCH made a request for three mortuary vans and we had directed the district health society (DHS) to provide them after repairing old ambulances and converting them into mortuary vans,” SHSB executive director Manoj Kumar said.

“The hospital was provided with old ambulances, but they were not repaired. We will fix accountability as to why were they not repaired and then sent to the medical college,” Kumar said.

Meanwhile, Patna’s district magistrate, Kumar Ravi, has sought a “factual report” from the superintendent of PMCH.

“We will initiate corrective measures after the PMCH superintendent sends me his factual report on the availability of mortuary vans and ambulance at the hospital,” said Ravi.

Dr Jamaiyar claimed there were four ambulances, two of PMCH and two others through the 102 outsourced agency.

“Our ambulances are used only for transfer of patients within the hospital, while those of 102 are available to patients for ferrying them outside,” he added.

Dr Prasad said at least 25-30 patients die at the hospital every day. Besides, the bulk of the footfall at the hospital is of poor and critical patients.