Bihar’s DMCH: A Reflection Of State’s Health Care In Tatters
The state of Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) reflects a deep rooted crisis in healthcare.
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As Bihar approaches its state assembly elections in the aftermath of devastating floods and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to examine the state of healthcare in the state. After all, the functioning of state-run government hospitals has always been marred by controversy.
My visit to Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) in north Bihar is a case in point. The DMCH is one among many government hospitals with poor infrastructure that the government is turning a blind eye to.
The state run hospital stands as a symbol of neglect, where the emergency ward is an ill-equipped place with minimal workforce in dire need of surgical instruments as well as oxygen facilities, giving the pandemic. Presently, there are no surgeries happening.
Poor State of Amenities
Doors of Burn Unit were found shut with a rusted lock hanging on it. I was told the unit has not been functioning for almost a decade, as the hospital lacks resources to treat burn victims. The DMCH website however, states there are 12 specialists for Burn and Plastic surgery. Amid the coronavirus crisis, rooms have temporarily turned into storage.
A doctor in the Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (DGO) said the hospital building is by no means fit to administer treatment. Dangerous infrastructure is a threat to both hospital staffs and patients.
Similarly, the DMCH surgical department building is rusted beyond repair, putting hundreds of lives in jeopardy. With 10 operation theatres and a 72-bed surgical ward, it was appalling to see the DMCH administration having no objection to running daily affairs in an eroded building with cracked beams and pillars.
The surgical ward has fragmented walls and ceilings. According to nursing staff, treating patients during winter season turns into a painstaking job when bone chilling cold wind seeps into the room due to broken window panes.
The structure was declared to be with G-3 defects ie unfit and unsafe for any work in 2015 by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
Referring to a report printed in The Telegraph, a medical staffer reiterated that the renovation of the damaged building is a priority for neither the hospital management nor the district administration and state government. Long treatments, back-to-back surgeries, daily check-ups, all are happening without an iota of restriction from the hospital authorities.
Highlighting the crisis of existing facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said that it was disturbing to see the lack of protective gear in the OPD as well as the absence of a mortuary inside the DMCH premises.
Only three dead bodies can be accommodated in the deep freezer of the postmortem ward in the Forensic Medicine Department, and even this freezer has been out of operation for a long time.
The COVID-19 pandemic and DMCH’s dilapidated building feels like a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea.
No Hygiene or Sanitation
A government record mentions the expansion of the DMCH in terms of Academic Block, Hospital Block, Class IV Accommodation, Surgical Block and Students Hostel. Bihar Medical Services & Infrastructure Corporation (BMSICL) in 2016, but the debilitated structure tells a different story.
A junior doctor placed in the hospital said hygiene and sanitation have taken a back seat. Indeed, pigs lounge in garbage piles at the entrance of the hospital, and the stinking odour of leaking sewage water obstructs movement into the premises.
No efforts have been made to keep the hospital space clean, even when the risk of dengue and malaria etc looms large.
Rakhi Devi (59), who was at the hospital for the treatment of her son, had to fetch water from a leaky tap surrounded by sewage water. “We are habituated to such conditions despite knowing it’s a health risk”, she said. An elderly man who was at the hospital also highlighted the risk of water spillage that has made the brick floor slippery to walk.
Ramnaresh (38), a rickshaw puller who was ferrying people visiting to DMCH, said,
“We’ve been hearing and waiting for the new hospital building since 5 years now, but the day has not come yet.”
(Repeated calls by the author and The Quint to the DMCH Superintendent Dr Raj Ranjan Prasad and Darbhanga District Magistrate went unanswered. The Quint has also reached out via email. The story will be updated is there is a response.)
(All ‘My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)
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