Around 3 am on August 13, artisan Khalid Ali rushed to the state-run Ram Manohar Lohia Female Hospital in Farrukhabad with his pregnant wife Gulafsa. After being allegedly denied admission there, the couple went to a private hospital across the road, where she delivered a girl child through C-section. The couple were then asked to take the baby to the government hospital as the private one did not have a sick newborn care unit. The child died the next day. Gulafsa’s daughter is among 49 children who have died at the Farrukhabad hospital in a month.
Recovering from the surgery at a one-room house in Bhikampura that she shares with six family members, Gulafsa said they went to the government hospital due to financial constraints. “Agar Sarkari ne bhagaya na hota to private kyon jaate? Hum koi ameer log to hain nahi. Raat ko 3 baje nurse boli, ‘yahan marne aayi ho kya, private jao’ (If the government hospital had not turned us away, why would we go to a private one? We are not rich. The nurse said at 3 am, ‘Have you come here to die, go to private),” alleged Gulafsa.
The surgery at the private hospital cost them Rs 20,000, she said, adding that they paid the bill after borrowing money from relatives. At Ram Manohar Lohia Female Hospital, which is battling severe staff crunch, tragedy was waiting to happen.
Only 65 beds of the sanctioned strength of 100 are operational at the hospital, which sees a daily rush of patients from Kannauj, Etah, Hardoi and Shahjahanpur districts. Patients cannot avail of medicines and pathological tests after 2 pm. The X-ray facility is available only three days a week as the hospital shares a radiologist with the neighbouring community health centre.
The hospital has two gynaecologists, one permanent and the other contractual. There are three medical officers for emergency — two permanent and one on ad-hoc basis. There is one paediatrician against the sanctioned strength of four. The hospital’s lone anaesthetist and medical superintendent Dr Akhilesh Agarwal was removed by the government Monday.
Still in his office, Agarwal shrugs when asked how the hospital would function now that he has been removed. “Last year, I was simultaneously working here and at health centres. Others will manage now. This has been the scenario always.”
According to sources, an anaesthetist would be borrowed from the adjoining Ram Manohar Lohia Male hospital. Chief Medical Superintendent B B Pushkar said the 200-bed hospital was functioning at a capacity of 120. “Every time a politician or a senior official comes, they ask for a report. We tell them about the scenario but it remains the same,” said Pushkar.