PUDUCHERRY: Besides patients, a group of monkeys regularly visit the in-patient ward at Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), not for treatment but for leftover food. About five to 10 monkeys can be seen in the hospital corridors every day in search of food.
The monkeys use a pipe to climb to the third floor near ward 42 and enter through an opening in the wall. Patients discard leftover food in cartons in the area, said a relative of a patient.
Generally, monkeys can be seen in the hospital corridors during mornings and afternoons, when patients finish breakfast and lunch and dispose the leftovers. Although the saving grace is that the monkeys have not attacked anyone yet, it may not be long before a patient or attendant may have to come face to face with an aggressive simian. One of attendants of a patient complained: “Once I tried to chase a monkey away, but it came rushing at me.”
What’s making it even more convenient for the monkeys to reach the wards is the scaffolding that was put up for renovation work behind the building. Besides the danger of attacks, patients have raised health concerns over the regular visits of the monkeys.
After inquiries with JIPMER, since Sunday authorities posted security personnel behind the building in the evening to prevent monkeys from entering the building. Dr Balachandran, Medical Superintendent of JIPMER, said, “Grills have been erected on all floors, except top floor, to prevent monkeys from coming into the wards. Windows and doors are also being kept closed.”
He said, ever since the four-lane Puducherry- Tindivanam highway was constructed, the afforestation forced the monkeys to move away to areas around JIPMER. Since then the monkeys have been coming inside the JIPMER campus regularly. “We have also written to the Forest Department twice to take action and address the problem,” he said. He, however, clarified: though monkeys do not pose any health hazard directly, a bite could be dangerous.