WHILE THE Union Home Ministry stated in January that the 300-bed Red Cross Sarai at PGI is aimed at helping “ailing patients and their caregivers who are from the economically weaker sections”, the Sarai seems to be of little or no help to the patients. Reason? The UT Red Cross is providing accommodation only to the family members and attendants and not to patients. Chandigarh Newsline visited the Sarai on Wednesday and found that the Red Cross was not providing accommodation to the patients. “The Sarai aims to help ailing patients and their caregivers who are from economically weaker sections…This facility is likely to ease the hardships of visiting patients and their families at PGI…,” said the Union Home Ministry in a statement issued on January 30, the day Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the facility.
Sarai manager M B Sane told Chandigarh Newsline that they don’t give the Sarai to patients as “it is only meant for the attendants of the patients”. “There is no specific reason for it (why patients are not provided accommodation at the Sarai),” he said. Chandigarh Deputy Commissioner Ajit Balaji Joshi was not available for comment. With the Sarai remaining unavailable to the patients, the facility has not been able to attract many people. On Tuesday night, only nine beds in the dormitory were occupied. Officials, however, said the private rooms were getting a good response.
The Sarai, jointly set up by Infosys and UT Red Cross, consists of 300 beds, 36 dormitories and 13 private rooms. The charges for dormitory is Rs 100 per person and a private room Rs 500 per day. But, it is not only Rs 100 or Rs 500 which has to be paid by the public. A Red Cross official on Wednesday said that for a room in the dormitory, Rs 400 (including Rs 300 of refundable security) has to be deposited at the time of admission. In case of a private room, the charge of which is Rs 500 per day, Rs 1,000 has to be paid in advance at the time of admission and the refundable security is Rs 500.
On the other hand, the PGI-run Sarais are much cheaper. The maximum charge there is Rs 50 and there is no provision for any security deposit. PGI officials believe that the UT Administration should provide accommodation to the patients as the four other Sarais, which accommodate a large number of patients and their attendants, are overburdened. “It (Sarai) should be made available to the patients. If PGI has given land for the Sarai, it is with the intention of helping patients and their family members. In the present situation, this facility is not going to help the needy,” said a senior PGI official.
PGI Director Dr Jagat Ram told Chandigarh Newsline, “I personally believe that the facility should be provided to patients, who need accommodation on a short-term basis. Many patients, who visit the OPD, have to stay for a few days at the institute… In such situations, the Sarai can really help them.”