Foul smelling toilets, unhygienic food, unclean wards and missing security guards. This, in a nutshell, was the description of R D Gardi Medical College and its associate hospital in Ujjain till a few days ago.
There were so many complaints from patients about the trust-run hospital, named a dedicated COVID-19 facility, that the Madhya Pradesh government threatened to revoke its licence if it did not get its house in order.
While things are still far from ideal, they have started to look up.
Ujjain has recorded the highest COVID-19 fatality rate in the country among cities with a minimum of 100 cases. Being the divisional headquarters, it caters to two nearby districts.
Madhav Nagar Hospital, a government hospital in the district that has been declared a COVID-19 isolation facility, is ill-equipped and this shifted the entire load to R D Gardi Hospital.
Once the number of patients in the district surged, the hospital management found it difficult to cope with the challenge as ward boys, security guards, a section of paramedic staff and even doctors stopped reporting for duty.
There were no arrangements to restrict the movement of relatives or patients because the hospital had never faced such a situation. It had to eventually erect barricades and lock certain rooms to facilitate isolation.
“Frankly, if I was a patient, I would have had lots of complaints. Most sanitation workers and security guards come from nearby villages but they stopped coming to the hospital out of fear… We could not have asked paramedics or doctors to do these jobs,” said hospital superintendent Dr Shailendra Sharma.
Cases were registered against the staff and the hospital management was served notices. The hospital argued that it had no powers to force staffers to report for duty. Its top management was in quarantine. When things did not improve, the government appointed a deputy collector to manage the affairs. It had previously served a notice on the management asking why its licence should not be revoked.
The hospital, which is more than two-decades old, has the capacity to admit 720 patients. More than 50 COVID-19 patients and suspected cases are being treated in a huge ward and an ICU ward with three floors is being readied, should the need arise.
Deputy collector Sujan Rawat said about 30 sanitation workers, including 12 from the hospital and others sourced from the local municipal body and other places, have been roped. The food quality has also improved. CCTV cameras have been installed and policemen are filling in for the guards.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines