GOVERNMENT HOSPITALS’ NIGHT SHELTER PROVIDE NO RELIEF TO PATIENT’S KIN

Chennai, March 28: Fifty eight year old Bibi Jaan who hails from Hosur, Krishnagiri has been staying in the remote parking lot of Kilpauk general hospital for the past five days as her daughter and son-in-law are getting treated for severe burns in the hospital. As the night shelter in the hospital remains locked up 15 others just like her have made the concrete floors of the parking lot their beds, until their relatives get treated.

This remains the condition after six night shelters were inaugurated last week by the Chennai Corporation including one at Kilpauk, so that the patient’s attendants and their relatives, who come from various parts of the state to government hospitals in the city, have a place to stay during the course of their treatment.

“I have been staying here with my one year old grandchild for the past five days and there is no facility of any night shelter that we know about. Once these cars leave the parking lot we take our blankets and go sleep there”, says Bibi Jaan.

“For people like us who come from faraway places it become really difficult to manage the expenses. I do not have the money to rent room in a hotel. I can get some food here at the canteen for Rs5 and there is a common toilet which we can use till the time we stay here”, she adds.

The Rs 3 crores project was initiated in 2015 with a grant given by the Housing and Urban development Corporation Limited (HUDCO) according to which Ten night shelters were constructed by Chennai Corporation: two at Stanley Hospital, two at Kilpauk Medical College and hospital, one at Egmore Children’s hospital, two at Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Egmore, one at Rajiv Gandhi Government General hospital and two at Government RSRM Hospital.

“The ten shelters have been built to accommodate about 45–50 people and they are supposed to be run round the clock by NGOs. They have kitchen and restroom facilities and separate rooms for men and women. Six of them opened last week and we haven’t received any complaint till now”, said Ms Asha of the Public Health Department of Chennai Corporation. The plan also included the appointment of staff member and security personnel to man the shelter.

But just like Kilpauk hospital none of these facilities were available to the relatives of patients at Rajiv Gandhi General Hospital.

55 year old S. Mala who has come from Tiruvannamalai has had her husband admitted in the hospital for the past 2 weeks.” The caretaker here does not come regularly so I have to go sleep on the pavement outside”, she said.

While the Institute of Child Health and Hospital (IHS) in Egmore opened its shelter without any formal inauguration about two weeks ago. It has been fully functional since then.

“We have the capacity to have 872 in-residents and currently there are about 100 in-resident children in the hospital. Though we know that the shelter which has been built here has the capacity to accommodate only 50 people, but at least it’s a good start”, says Dr R.S Raghunathan, Resident Medical Officer of IHS.

The night shelter at IHS has been reserved for women and has basic facilities of providing mats and blankets to the ladies. After the hospital administration cross checks details, the children’s mothers receive an identity card which they can use to stay there as long as the treatment of their child takes. The shelter also provides dinner from the nearby Amma Canteen.