In the last two years,at least seven doctors working in the 1,000-bedded Sewree TB Hospital were infected with tuberculosis. It is little wonder that only 27 of the 50 posts for medical professionals are now filled in the citys largest anti-tuberculosis facility run by the civic body.
Fear of contracting tuberculosis is a major reason keeping doctors away from joining the hospital,say officials at the hospital from where a woman patient jumped to her death early on Tuesday morning.
In the last two-three years,seven to eight doctors contracted TB,including one honorary doctor. It is a problem in these specialised hospitals, said Dr Anil Patel,medical superintendent at the Sewree hospital.
Not just doctors,even staffers,including nurses and ward boys,are exposed to the infection. The 1,100-odd staff at the hospital get a meagre Rs 125 a month as infectious disease allowance. Recently we have asked the commissioner to provide supplementary nutrition to the staff in form of bananas and milk, said Dr Patel.
But there is more to the sorry state of the hospital. Its major operation theatre was shut for a few months owing to unavailability of an anaesthetist. Equipment is also in short supply. Operations that take place at the major operation theatre go on for four to five hours. No anaesthetist from the panel of anaesthetists for BMC hospitals will devote so much time. We have asked to raise the amount being given to them. We have also purchased a new table and lights for the operation theatre, Dr Patel says.
The lone X-ray machine started working yesterday. It was lying defunct for four to five days, said a hospital source. Lack of counsellors for TB patients,especially those suffering from chronic TB,is also a recurring problem.
Worse,the laboratory is not working to its capacity as there are no technicians. There were no fresh appointments after the retirement of old hands. We are in the process of reviving the laboratory, said Dr Patel,admitting that the hospital has been neglected for a long time.
For years together,a 350-bedded wing in the Bahuduji Block that housed women and children patients was shut. We are planning to revive it and dedicate a floor for palliative care of patients suffering with HIV and TB at the end stage, said Dr Patel.
The sole hope for the patients at the hospital is the renovation and refurbishment underway. The hospital has asked for 55 new pieces of equipment including X-ray machines and laboratory equipment. If things fall in place,the hospital can also start a second line treatment for Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR- TB) patients. A Directly Observed Tuberculosis Short course (DOTS) plus therapy centre will be established at the hospital. Also we are in a process to upgrade the laboratory to start with culture testing for MDR-TB. The Central Government has agreed to sponsor 50 cases to start with, he said.