Pavements are beds for some outstation patients

They come from far and wide seeking relief and succour at the country’s premier medical institution, but scores of outstation patients at AIIMS find themselves fighting the heat and humidity during the day and spending nights on pavements.

Hospital officials say they are unable to provide shelter to all of them.

Many outstation patients who fail to get admission at the hospital are forced to spend days outside AIIMS, waiting for their turn.

They put up with bad hygiene conditions and extreme weather.

Nizakat Khan, a 28-year-old cancer patient from Madhya Pradesh who is undergoing chemotherapy following an operation, said along with the family members accompanying her, she has been spending days in the Metro station subway and nights on pavements.

“It’s too hot to sit in the sun during the day. I am here with my father, brother and uncle. It’s been more than a week that I was operated upon and am currently undergoing chemotherapy,” she said.

“At night, neither the hospital guards nor those at the Metro station allow us to stay on their premises, so we sleep on the pavement along with many others,” said Nizakat.

Another patient, 13-year-old Sajjan from Patna, has spent more than two weeks with his family on the roadside, seeking an operation date from the doctors.

Sajjan is undergoing treatment for brain tumour. His father, Sanjeevan Choudhary, said, “We came here more than 15 days ago. My son has undergone a few tests.

The next date we have received is July 4. I am a labourer. I don’t have enough money. We are planning to leave for home.”

The hospital management, however, said that despite ongoing and past efforts, it has found it impossible to accommodate the massive number of patients who daily visit AIIMS.

AIIMS public relations officer Dr Amit Gupta said, “More than 10,000 patients come everyday to this hospital. We can’t cater to the needs of all of them and of relatives who accompany them. It is not possible.”

“We have four dharmshalas with a capacity of 750 to 800 people. One more is being built at the Trauma Centre,” Gupta said.

What adds to the woes for many patients is the uncertainty over getting a date for consultation at AIIMS.

“We have not been told when would we get the next date for consultation. My daughter is undergoing treatment, she can’t see. Her tests have been done, but I don’t know where to go now,” said Thakur Das from Chhattisgarh.

A patient from UP said he finds the situation grim. “The situation doesn’t look good. More than 100 people are here on the pavements. I did not expect to see this in Delhi,” he said.

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