If you are poor and have a severe heart condition, there is no place in Odisha where you can get the treatment in time. Not even at the cardiothoracic department of the SCB Medical College and Hospital, the only government-run referral centre for heart surgery in the State.
Not that SCB is incapable of handling such cases but the waiting list is excruciatingly long - at least five years. Imagine a patient, who requires an open heart surgery urgently and registers himself at the institution today only to be set a date in 2017, the proof of which is available with this paper.
Baisnab Swain (40) (name changed) of Bhubaneswar, has been diagnosed with aortic valve stenosis and advised open heart surgery for valve replacement (VR). He has been assigned a surgery date in February 2017 by the cardiothoracic department.
Like Swain there are more than 100 patients whose fate hangs in balance as they wait for their turn to get the surgery done. The number keeps piling day on day as the cardiothoracic wing struggles to provide proper healthcare services in the face of rising incidence of heart diseases among the population.
An acute lack of doctors, staff and infrastructure has almost crippled the department, which is the sole hope for the millions of poor in the State.
The department has only two doctors, a professor and an associate professor to conduct the surgeries, which are not confined to heart alone and encompasses lungs, esophagus and blood vessels also. Two posts of assistant professors are lying vacant.
At most, it can do one open heart surgery a week. With more than 2000 patients lined up every year, the surgeons are thus being forced to assign distant dates to the patients. The department also does not entertain emergency cases for the very reason of staff shortage and infrastructural deficiencies, sources pointed out.
To couple the problem, surgeries are being conducted with obsolete equipment and machinery that were purchased way back in 1986. The technology and surgery practices have undergone sea change over the last two decades but the doctors here are forced to make do with the age-old practices.
There is an immediate requirement of appointment of more doctors along with replacing equipment with the latest ones in the department that has 40 beds and a four-bed ICU. It also has an infectious unit for TB patients who require lung surgery.
The department should have at least one more professor, one additional associate professor, two assistant professors and three senior residents, sources said.
However, instead of attending to the urgent needs of the department, the Government has ludicrously gone ahead to propose superspeciality MCh course with two seats for the department.
It has initiated the process of applying to the MCI for grant of permission to run the course. The MCI, though, would strike it down at the first inspection taking note of the shortcomings.
The department was also to be shifted to the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences along with the cardiology unit. But the construction work is yet to be complete even after two years since it was planned.