BENGALURU: Even as Victoria Hospital and the Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital struggle with high volumes of patients, sometimes forcing them to share beds, the Epidemic Diseases Hospital, with 120 beds, located on 16 acres in Indiranagar, wears a deserted look with no patients.
As the name suggests, the hospital is meant to cater to a disease outbreak and those cases which require isolation. But this hospital is over a century old and so is the concept of isolation hospitals.
In fact, it was previously called Isolation Hospital. It is clean and well-maintained and was moved into a new building just nine months back. It does not bode well for the Health Department to have a large swathe of land with an empty hospital, especially one that has good infrastructure.
There are numerous other hospitals which treat similar ailments without having an entire hospital structure dedicated to treating a particular ailment. A better idea would be to utilise the space available at the Epidemic Diseases Hospital to its full potential by employing more doctors and treating other illnesses side by side, suggest experts.
The hospital’s wards have no more than 10 in-patients at any given point of time, except from March to June when they treat around 100 patients, medical superintendent Ansar Ahmed claims. In the peak summer months, water-borne diseases are on the rise, but the rest of the year is lean, he adds.
“We only treat seasonal diseases. Cholera, tetanus, gastroenteritis, chicken pox, rabies, diphtheria, measles, mumps and dog bites are some of the ailments we treat. These diseases require isolation,” he says. The hospital has only three doctors and 12 staff nurses.
Vishal Rao, a head and neck cancer surgeon in the city said, “Isolation is a process, it is not a permanent thing. Infectious diseases definitely require isolation, but the hospital can’t be empty. In a general hospital, we have a wing or a ward for such cases and take certain precautions like fumigation and other protocols. The area has to be sterile so that cross-infections don’t occur, that’s all. There are leprosy wards, TB wards, HIV wards in general hospitals, or special wards for rabies.”
“The Epidemic Diseases Hospital can extend its services. Nowadays, where do we have cholera cases? It is virtually extinct. Where is a cholera epidemic? That’s a 1900’s occurrence. A hospital is meant to treat. You can’t keep it empty with no activity waiting for an epidemic to break out. There are so many activities that the space can be used for when there are no patients — like research, prevention activities, community screening, awareness and outreach programmes or seminars,” he added. The hospital did not receive any cases of cholera in 2014 and 2015.
Dr P L Nataraj, director, Health and Family Welfare Department, said, “These are all valid points. We will look into it.”