GB Pant Hospital:
Problem of Plenty?
The ANI Admn is on a rollercoaster ride with so many major projects being executed in a hurry. The do or die approach is appreciated by one and all. Meanwhile the larger interest seems to eclipse all lapses including procedures and processes. It’s pertinent that with the noble end, the means too needs to be noble and transparent.
By Zubair Ahmed
Govind Ballabh Pant Hospital, the flagship of healthcare in ANI and the only referral hospital had almost shed the sobriquet of slaughterhouse, with slightly improved healthcare services despite shortage of specialists. But, the recent developments portray a very precarious picture. Mismanagement and negligence, has now become a slur, going back to the old days.
It’s quite scary that there had been 5 cases of maternal deaths in the last three months. What is plaguing the grand hospital, with the best infrastructure, claimed by many experts, visiting the Islands, doing sufficient PR for the Administration?
The whole focus of the Administration in the last one year has been on the upcoming medical college. About 85 specialists cum teaching faculties have been recruited. All of the newly recruited personnel are based in Port Blair, and majority of them in GB Pant Hospital. Though, it’s too early to comment on their performances as faculties, their services in GB Pant Hospital are not something to write home about. There is a buzz, maybe, from the old school that either the newly appointed are very old, with no hands on practice for many years lingering in administrative works or very young, fresh from college.
Maybe they will prove the critics wrong in the long run, but as far as healthcare is concerned, there can't be a teething period. It affects lives. There is sheer confusion everywhere, with so many doctors on roll, yet deficiency in services.
In the last case of alleged medical negligence, Mrs. Homakshi, 21, wife of Mr. D. Janaki Rao, resident of Haddo, lost her life. According to sources, the patient had developed hypertension, which is not uncommon, resulting in rupture of arteries leading to heavy bleeding. The family members allege that the patient did not get proper attention. They have demanded enquiry.
Five maternity deaths in a short span of three months is a serious concern, whatever the final reports say. No medical board has ever indicted any doctor for negligence or lapse in the Islands.
Andaman and Nicobar Administration is on a rollercoaster ride with so many major projects being executed in a hurry. The do or die approach is appreciated by one and all. Meanwhile the larger interest seems to eclipse all lapses including procedures and processes. It’s pertinent that with the noble end, the means too needs to be noble and transparent.
From shifting of Ayush to modifications inside the OPD section of GB Pant Hospital and the facilities spread in three or four locations are a few infrastructural requirements being carried out before the deadline is met.
To fulfill the MCI guidelines, the Administration did not even hesitate in calling back the available specialists from the District Hospital at Mayabunder, North and Middle Andaman. All the three specialists - Surgeon, Psychiatrist and the Anesthetist have been withdrawn to fill the numbers to satisfy MCI. Moreover, there are no regular doctors in any of the PHCs in Radhanagar, Tugapur or Long Island. Literally, as far as availability of doctors are concerned, there is no major difference in a PHC, CHC or District hospital.
Virtually, there is not a single specialist in a district with a population of more than one lakh. And, people there have been demanding physicians and technical staff for a long time. Ultrasound machines are lying idle for lack of operators or a gynecologist.
In Nicobar district, there is a surgeon, but without an Anesthetist. The regular transfer of doctors has not taken place since last one year.
On the one hand, GB Pant Hospital is crammed with specialists, but the authorities are still in a quagmire, unable to place them properly. The chaos is literally taking a toll on delivery of services. Grand, multi-crore buildings furnished with mosaic, tiles and glasses do not make a good health institution, it’s the delivery of healthcare that matters.
On anonymity, a specialist said that the newly recruited doctors are unable to cope with the situation independently and most of them have been tagged with the local doctors.
And even in cases of forensic investigations, still the hospital is relying on the general doctors or sending sample to mainland. In fact, when the doctors have been appointed with enormous emoluments paid every month, why can't the Administration utilize their services diligently?
During the last six months, under Dr S K Paul, it was an emergency-like situation. Expecting some plum position in the upcoming medical college, when he was asked to bend, he literally crawled.
One of the staff, who in an emergency had to rush for surgery in a private hospital, was denied reimbursement. She was taken from GB Pant Hospital to the private hospital, as on a Sunday, the surgeon was not available. When she submitted her medical bills for reimbursement with the Directorate where she was working as a Teaching Faculty in the Nursing School, a mock medical board was set up to deny her the reimbursement. Medical reimbursement in the Islands is in itself interesting tale.
In another strange case, an X-Ray technician posted at PHC Wimberly Gunj was arrested on charges of sexual harassment four months back, and the Department is yet to provide alternative. When the Pradhan Jyoti Kindo approached Dr S K Paul, then Director, instead of a solution he blamed her for getting the guy booked.
It’s quite obvious that rift has started surfacing between the old and the new. However, it’s the Administration which needs to address the genuine concerns raised by the local doctors. Their apprehensions were taken up by Andaman and Nicobar Health Service Doctors Association.
The Association had met the Secretary Health and apprised her about the concerns. It has blamed that the Administration at no point thought it essential to discuss the modalities of opening the medical college, and the status of the senior specialists and GDMOs with PG qualification and GDMOs in general. They were kept in dark. They have also raised the issue about the transfer policy of doctors as well as other staff, once GB Pant Hospital comes under the control of the society, ANIMERS. With interviews being conducted for Jr. Resident, Sr. Resident, Asst Professors, Associate Professors and others for the medical college and all of them working at GB Pant Hospital, what would be the status of 22 sanctioned existing GDMOs of the hospital?
The Association is also apprehensive about the jumbled alterations made inside the OPD complex to accommodate the new staff, which would be disastrous in case of fire accidents or other disasters.
When the Islanders are upbeat over the developments, it’s pertinent that the Administration does not ignore the dissenting voices and accommodate genuine concerns of all stakeholders, most primarily if it affects their lives.