VSS Medical has been hogging headlines for all wrong reasons in the last few days, but things have failed to improve notwithstanding any amount of criticism.
In the casualty department, there are only two stretchers to carry critical patients and one has to register his or her name before availing the stretcher service. Besides, one has to depend on the mercy of the attendants and often, people have alleged that they demand bribe to get stretchers. The department has eight beds and the two stretchers are grossly inadequate as far as the requirement is concerned.
The condition in 28 other departments is all the more bad as each of them has only one stretcher. As the stretchers in other departments are used for diagnostic tests in the indoor, those departments refuse to part with it.
But the irony is that these stretchers are used to carry materials of operation theatre, and are seldom used to take the patients. Although there are four stretchers under the control of the Steward of the Medical, they are hardly put to use.
Adding to the problem, there is also dearth of attendants (Class IV employee) whose number has been on a down slide. Sources said there were 450 Class IV employees whose number has dwindled to 220 now. The situation persists even as the number of patients is on the rise.
Dean and Principal of VSS Medical Santosh Kumar Behera said there is no dearth of stretchers, but manpower. “After the State Government abolished the Class IV posts, vacancies arising out of the retirement and superannuation are not filled up. This has resulted in large scale vacancies of Class IV employees who carry patients in the stretchers.
Although the State Government had directed to outsource the work of Class IV employees, there has been no response to the advertisement issued for the purpose,” he informed. Fresh tender will be floated soon, he added.
If patients in Casualty department are having to do without stretchers, there are not enough bed sheets for patients in almost every ward. VSS Medical is yet to set up a central laundry that is mandatory as per the Medical Council of India (MCI) guidelines. The Medical authorities had outsourced the existing laundry works to a private firm, but it has ceased to operate for over a month now.
As a result, the patients are forced to sleep directly on the bare mats.
According to reports, the laundry job including supply of bed sheets was outsourced to a private firm and the amount was being paid from Rogi Kalyan Samiti. To ensure that soiled bed sheets are not recycled, it was agreed by the firm that it would provide bed sheets of seven colours for each day of the week to ensure cleanliness.
Sources alleged that this condition was violated and bed sheets of one colour were supplied throughout the week. Moreover, the bed sheets including those of the operation theatre were only cleaned and not sterilised. Many of the washing machines too are not operational.
Prior to this, the bed sheets were cleaned by a local washerman who was paid `60,000 for the job. The situation did not improve even though the private firm was paid four times of the money paid to the washerman.
The laundry has been found closed for the last one month forcing the patients either to arrange bed sheets on their own or sleep on the mats.
Sources said VSS Medical authorities are planning to purchase new beds sheets from funds available under Rogi Kalyan Samiti instead of eliminating the root problem.
Superintendent of VSS Medical LK Dash said new tender has been floated for purchasing bed sheets and arrangement is being made to temporarily off-load the work to local washerman.
The 800-bed VSS Medical caters to patients from Western Odisha besides neighbouring Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.