VISAKHAPATNAM: There is just one audiologist at the state referral ENT Government Hospital here which treats several hundreds of patients, not only from Vizag, but also other northern districts, Odisha and Chhattisgarh, every day.
The sole audiologist issues medical certificates apart from testing the hearing ability of patients. The situation has been the same since 2009, despite repeated requests to the government on recruiting additional staff. The audiologist tests 30 to 40 people every day. It is not uncommon for patients to be asked to return on another date because he is hard pressed for time. “I have to conduct Bera test for some, which takes at least one hour. We get around five such cases a day,” said Srinivas, the audiologist, adding that he couldn’t hurry through tests and compromise on quality. “I am under pressure. My task will be easy if the four vacancies are filled,” he explained.
The hospital boasts of state-of-the-art equipment, but is understaffed and hence unable to meet the demands of patients. Some people who don’t want to wait turn to private hospitals that charge around Rs 2,000 for the service. “The poor, of course, have to wait,” he observed.
On the days that Srinivas is unable to turn up, an audiologist working at the Hearing Aid Centre in Rani Chandramani Devi Hospital is deputed to conduct tests. “But I hardly take days off,” he says.