Muniya Devi with her two minor granddaughters.
(Photo: Gurvinder Singh/The Quint)
As Doctors Protest in Kolkata, Patients Want the Impasse to End
Patients who have travelled miles for treatment wait for the strike to end in the city’s government hospitals.
It’s been over four days since doctors in Kolkata’s government hospitals went on strike over the attack on a junior doctor in the city’s Nil Ratan Sarkar (NRS) Medical College and Hospital. While in many of these hospitals doctors continued to give critical services to emergency patients, many who were referred to the city’s medical colleges from surrounding districts and states remain in want of treatment. The Quint visited NRS as well SSKM, two of the city’s top government hospitals, to check on the condition of the patients.
‘I Hope This Ends Soon, and My Daughter Survives’
Muniya Devi, 45, who has come from Hajipur in Bihar, has been living with her two minor granddaughters in the compound of the SSKM hospital for the past ten days.
Her daughter Sita Devi, 20, was scheduled to undergo a C-Section on 13 May but the cessation of work put her life in danger after she was inadvertently kicked in the abdomen by another patient the previous week.
“The situation is worse. Despite being pregnant and having serious complications in her ovaries, my daughter was put on the same bed as another woman. She accidentally kicked Sita last night and that has resulted in enormous pain. She has been withering in pain but she is yet to be operated upon. The hospital staff also misbehaved with me when I urged them to operate on her. I hope this ends soon and my daughter survives.’’
‘He Needs Immediate Surgery, He Might Not Survive’
Just like Muniya, Jomir Mollah too, is hoping for the crisis to end soon. Mollah, 25, who has come from Murshidabad district can barely eat and talks too little.
He has been suffering from an intestinal ailment and needs surgery immediately. He has been laying outside the Digestive and Liver Department of SSKM, hoping his treatment starts soon.
“We reached NRS hospital a day after the agitation began and were completely unaware about it. He (Jomir) remained unattended in the hospital premises for three days before I brought him here thinking that he would be treated at SSKM. But here too the situation is the same. He needs immediate surgery or he might not survive,” said Jomir’s brother Baidur Mollah, tears welling up in his eyes.
‘Better To Die Here, Than Live Miserably in Pain’
At the NRS patients’ kin waiting room, Pinjura Bibi, 40, was found groaning in pain. She had come from a remote village in Murshidabad for surgery for a tumour in her uterus. She was, however, discharged on Friday, 14 June, by authorities who allegedly cited their helplessness in treating her.
“I was admitted here on 26 May after being referred from Berhampore in critical condition. The surgery was fixed for Wednesday, 12 June, but I have been released by the authorities. But I will not go. It’s better to die here than to live miserably in unbearable pain.”
‘No Money to Return Home’
Madhu Das, 55, who had come from New Coochbehar for his sister, Renu Bala Das’s treatment, who is suffering from a kidney ailment, says he now has no money to go back home.
“We had to change four trains and travel in unreserved coaches to bring her to the city because of heavy rush in the trains. The ticket examiners forced us to de-board from reserved coaches and also threatened to put us in jail, even when I showed them the medical prescriptions of my sister. We have been here since last Tuesday. We are surviving on puffed rice and sattu which is also getting exhausted. I will wait for a day or two before deciding to return but I have no money left to make the return trip. I have been spending around Rs 225 every day to stay in the night shelter inside the hospital with my sister and a relative, and also incurring expenses of food and other items.”
‘Request Doctors to Let Emergency Services Run Freely’
Ajay Kumar Nandy, 67, a resident of Kolkata, accused the hospital staff at NRSMCH of misbehaving with him when he went to be treated for a leg injury.
“They misbehaved with me and were quite rude but softened their attitude when I complained to the senior hospital officials. I sincerely request the doctors to allow emergency services to run freely as only people who are serious are brought in to these units.”
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