Easy to get lost in this concrete jungle

Delhi has a number of tertiary care government hospitals with super-speciality departments. But after consulting them, patients’ attendants remain clueless about where exactly to go for treatment and tests due to the large number of buildings and blocks spread over acres.

Patients coming to the two clusters in Delhi – one comprising AIIMS, Safdarjung and AIIMS trauma centre in south Delhi, and the other comprising Lok Nayak, G B Pant, Maulana Azad Medical College and Guru Nayak Hospitals near New Delhi railway station – raise this issue more prominently than others.

There is hardly anybody to guide the attendants. “People ask us where to go. They show us papers given in hospitals. But even we do not know everything and cannot send them to the right place,” said a guard at Safdarjung Hospital. “Lok Nayak Hospital has an arrow system for guidance,” Dr CM Khaneju, medical superintendent, Dr B R Ambedkar Hospital. This system is lacking in other hospitals.

One finds attendants roaming around or just sitting idle. On where they would go next, they just shrug or give vague answers in the absence of knowledge of “what next”.

“When we achieve one goal, the next is already set. We have to deal with the rush first,” he said. “So many people should not accompany a patient. As per hygiene standards, it is bad. There won’t be a place to sit and bathrooms will always be full. Even the best of places cannot manage 10,000 footfalls a day.”

Old and alone
Suman Sethi, 84, drags a stretcher alone on which her husband lies. 
“He has bone problems. I have to show him to the doctor regularly. Not even a hospital guard helps us,” she said. If a person reaches the hospital alone, doctors refuse to treat, not knowing who will attend to the patient.

“My treatment will go on for a few months. But no family member can stay for that long, so I am not being treated,” said Rajesh, camping on the pavement of GTB Hospital for the last five months. He has throat cancer and is surviving on tea and biscuits given by passers-by.

“We want to treat them but we cannot. Who will get them medicines, clothes and food? There is shortage of staff too. If something goes wrong, it is us who will be questioned,” said a senior resident at the hospital.

“The focus is only on the number of beds. If someone asks for 20 counters for registration or increase in the number of toilets, it is regarded as waste of resources,” the official said.

Veena Nangia, a retired government official, does her own bit to address the problem. She spends three hours a day at Dr Hedgewar Arogya Sansthan’s helpdesk. She helps patients and their attendants. She tells them where the blood bank is and how to reach the orthopedic ward.

But before she comes and after she leaves, it’s the same story in Hedgewar too.

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