It’s 11 am and around 50 security guards stage a sit-in outside the casualty ward of Guru Teg Bahadur (GTB) Hospital, shouting slogans. They are demanding wages they said had not been paid for the last three months.
Similar noise and chaos greet you inside the emergency ward next door with the 10-bed fever ward brimming with suspected dengue patients, who squabble over delay in admission. Many patients or their kin double as human stands for IV drips, carrying them in one hand and clutching medical reports in the other as they wait for the doctor.
The scene is similar in most government hospitals grappling with a flood of suspected dengue cases, though only 68 of around 250 — or around one-third cases — patients who came to hospitals with dengue-like symptoms tested positive on Wednesday.
The Delhi government released figures for the last 24 hours — data showed of 2,519 patients admitted in 34 hospitals with fever, only 281 were dengue cases.
“I have been waiting for over an hour now,” a patient shouts at GTB Hospital. Guards try to pacify him even as a patient almost faints and collapses. She is helped by her kin onto a bed already occupied by two others.
One of the three doctors taking blood samples says, “We are working on 12-hour shifts, from 9 am to 9 pm. There are around 60 patients at the moment and, for each patient, the process of screening, taking blood samples and counselling takes at least 20 minutes.”
The hospital’s nodal officer for dengue Dr J P Kapoor attributes the patient rush to panic and alarm. “Most patients have viral fever or other diseases like pneumonia. But they fear they have dengue. We are carrying out tests. Those testing positive are being admitted to the dengue ward. The workload is very high. We are trying our best.”
At Lal Bahadur Shastri (LBS) Hospital, tempers are frayed in the emergency ward. A young doctor is heard rebuking a patient’s kin, “His blood pressure is still so low and he is dehydrated. How much water did you give him to drink in the last few hours? Just a glass? Well, then nothing can be done about this. Doctors can’t do everything.”
Meanwhile, around 2 pm, amid the commotion and crowding, AAP’s Kondli legislator Manoj Kumar, accompanied by a senior doctor, walks in. “You must wear full sleeves, drink lots of fluids and keep your surroundings clean,” he tells a patient. All eyes in the ward turn to him and everybody is all ears.
“We are on a war-footing,” he says. “Look at me. Look at the state I am in. I have been doing rounds of hospitals in my constituency for the last few days. I have been out in my constituency since morning,” he says.
“We have been trying to rope in doctors from government dispensaries in East Delhi to address the problem of manpower shortage. We are trying to counsel patients to follow up treatment at home…,” Medical Superintendent Dr Amrita Saxena says.