BENGALURU: For a population of 6.5 crore, the state has only two burns units equipped to deal with third-degree burns. The Mahabodhi Burns Centre at Victoria Hospital, Kalasipalya, and St John’s Medical College Hospital, Sarjapur Road, both in Bengaluru bear the burn victims’ burden of the state as all private care providers refer them to these hospitals, especially Victoria.
Mahabodhi treats 180-200 patients per month, and all of them with more than 30 per cent burns. The morbidity rate stands at 50 per cent. With five admissions every day, Mahabodhi manages with a skeletal staff that includes nine plastics consultants, 12 postgraduate students and interns. “The nine plastic surgeons also need to look at other cases and treat patients in Victoria’s emergency and trauma centre,” said Dr K T Ramesh, head of the department, plastic surgery and burns, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute.
As no private hospital in the state has a dedicated burns ward for grievous burns, the state’s only burns care facility is stretched. Currently the two-storeyed building has 50 beds with two patients sharing a room. The ground floor is under renovation.
“We are not looking at adding beds, but at expanding services. Currently, we have only two ventilators. Post-renovation, we intend to have single patient rooms, three more OTs (operation theatres) and ICUs (intensive care units). We have also requested the management for more burns specialists,” Dr Ramesh said.
Ramesh says no private hospital in the state treats patients with more than 30 per cent burns, and refers them to Victoria, one of the reasons for their high morbidity rate. “Patients with 80-90 per cent burns aren’t even given a single room as there is no hope. Patients with 50 to 60 per cent burns are kept in isolated wards. We are a government hospital, hence we cannot reject any patient, all have to be admitted but they are discharged in three weeks to make room for new admissions,” he said.
Offering little support is St John’s Hospital that treats 150 patients over an entire year as their burns unit is equipped with just six beds. It has three to four other rooms being used by burns patients. “Burns is a labour-intensive specialty that requires surgeons, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, counsellors and nutritionists. It is physically and mentally demanding,” said Dr Rajeswari Dharmarajan, burns unit-in-charge at St John’s.
Dr Vijay Joseph, Prof of Plastic Surgery at St John’s, said, “Their morale is down (staff in burns unit) and unless they are committed they won’t opt for it.”