KAKINADA: Are cardiologists in the State not interested in government service?
The question will pop in the minds of people if the situation in the cardiology department of the Kakinada Government General Hospital (KGGH) is any indication.
Though the department has a bed strength of 47, there is only one cardiologist, who divides his profession time between the King George Hospital (KGH) in Visakhapatnam and Kakinada GGH.
As there are no takers for the two assistant professor posts for the cardiology department, two doctors specialising in ophthalmology have been deputed as tutors to the department. The two doctors also carry out general check-up on outpatients of the cardiology wing.
The lone qualified cardiologist in the hospital, Dr. Venkatachalam, has also been given the additional charge of King George Hospital in Visakhapatnam as there is no cardiologist there.
His application to the government for transfer to Visakhapatnam, which is his native place, has received no response. Hence, he is shuttling between KGH in Vizag and Kakinada GGH.
According to hospital sources, the cardiologist is only available in the hospital on Tuesdays and Fridays and the remaining days, the burden falls on his two assistants from ophthalmology. What happens in the case of emergencies? Silence is the only answer.
Dondapati Mose, a 55-year old from Gondi village of Ainavilli mandal in East Godavari district, got admitted to the hospital with chest pain on October 15 and he is yet to see the cardiologist.
“Only junior doctors have examined me so far and are monitoring the situation,” he said. Same is the case with Pilla Chittamma, a 50-year-old woman from Kakinada, who was admitted to the hospital two days ago.
TNIE efforts to contact cardiologist Dr Venkatachalam for his comment on the situation proved futile.
M Raghavendra Rao, Superintendent of the KGGH, says that there is a need for full-time cardiologists and qualified assistant professors for the department, which receives 100-150 outpatients every day.
“We have sent several representations to the Director of Medical Education for filling up the vacant posts. Hopefully, appointments will be made soon,” he said.
When TNIE contacted, DME K Babji said they are ready to appoint immediately cardiologists if they are candidates interested to work at the hospital. “We are making efforts to fill the eight cardiology posts for government hospitals in the State by next month. Hopefully, some cardiologist turns up for the KGGH.
When tried to find out the reason for the reluctance of cardiologists from joining government service, those in the know of things said low pay is the main reason.
A cardiologist in government teaching hospital gets a monthly salary of around 1 1 lakh, while in private and corporate hospitals, it is anywhere between Rs 3 lakh to Rs 4 lakh, they explained. It is not only a shortage of cardiologists, but even the ECG technicians and the required machines are also found to be in shortage. People in the know of things at the hospital say that the department needs a minimum 10 ECG machines and 30 ECG technicians, according to sources.