No doctor at PCMC hospital’s oncology department for 2 years
Cancer patients at the Yashwantrao Chavan Memorial Hospital are turned away, as other patients now fill the oncology ward.pune Updated: Feb 14, 2018 15:17 IST
The oncology ward for cancer patients at the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation’s (PCMC) Yashwantrao Chavan Memorial Hospital (YCMH) has not had an oncologist in the last two years.
Consequently, cancer patients with poor financial backgrounds from the industrial township, surrounded by villages from Pune district, have been suffering in the absence of an oncologist at the 750-bed hospital.
With the oncology ward, started in 2005, admitting patients with other ailments, the cancer patients are being asked to seek treatment at the state government’s Sassoon General Hospital, a good 20 km away. The sole full-time post of a radiological oncologist in the cancer ward has been lying vacant for the last two years.
Last week, Radhika Phadke, a 42-year-old victim of breast cancer from Bhosari, said she went to the YCMH in the hope of getting treatment. However, the YCMH authorities referred her to Sassoon.
“I have been suffering from breast cancer for the last one year. Initially, we approached YCMH in Pimpri. However, because of unavailability of treatment facilities, the YCMH authorities sent me to Sassoon hospital for further treatment,” Phadke said in an interview.
She pointed out that she could not afford the treatment from private practitioners and hospitals in Pimpri-Chinchwad itself.
Like Phadke, another patient, Tukaram Jadhav (49) from Kalewadi has been suffering in a similar manner. A patient of lung cancer, Jadhav said, “Doctors at YCMH advised me to go to Sassoon hospital. I did go there; but it is not possible for me to commute such a long distance each time. An oncologist at the YCMH will benefit us greatly.”
Doctors at the YCMH confirmed that patients were being referred to Sassoon for treatment in the absence of a specialist at the municipal hospital.
Dr Anil Roy, a medical officer at Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation’s health department, said, “Some years back we had special oncologists. We now provide service related to cancer surgeries on prior appointment. But for regular and routine treatment, cancer patients are being referred to the Sassoon hospital.”
Accepting the situation, the hospital’s health superintendent Manoj Deshmukh said, “Yes, we do not have a full-time cancer surgeon because no one is ready to work here. Whenever there is a demand, we call in a specialist from outside to conduct surgery at our hospital. We have decided to treat patients with other ailments at the cancer ward because of a poor response from cancer patients.”
Senior oncologists said that it was necessary to have a fully functional oncology ward at a large municipal hospital such as the YCMH. A three-member full-time staff, comprising an onco surgeon, a medicine oncologist and an onco radiologist, was the basic requirement at the ward, specialists said.
The ward has a capacity to treat 70 cancer patients daily. However, with cancer patients being turned down, the oncology department is allowing patients suffering from ailments, like malaria, flu and other illnesses. During a visit to the hospital, a team from HT found patients with other ailments admitted to the oncology ward.
Sunil Utanagi, whose mother was admitted for jaundice, expressed surprise that she was admitted to the cancer ward. “Not a single cancer patient is seen here,” he said.
Dr Minish Jain, an oncologist at the Dr DY Patil Medical College, Hospital & Research Centre, Pimpri, and formerly at YCMH, said, “I had worked in YCMH for four years till I left it in 2012. At that time, we used to treat almost 60-70 cancer patients daily. But now, in the absence of an oncologist, patients approach our hospital.”
Dr Shona Nag, another oncologist who had worked previously at YCMH, said, “How are they running an oncology department without an oncologist? Where should the patients with poor financial backgrounds go in the absence of an oncologist? I have worked there before. It is high time that an organised cancer treatment facility is made available at the YCMH to help the large cancer population living in that part of the city. Patients are in need of affordable cancer treatment.”