VELLORE : The Walajah Hospital started functioning as a Municipal Health Centre about 55 years ago. Slowly, it dug its roots deep and developed into a Primary Health Centre, before upgrade as a 50-bed Government Hospital in 1985. In 1996, with a view to catering to an increasing number of patients, an additional building was built opposite the Old Building due to shortage of land.
In 2005, the hospital was shifted to the new premises, but funds crunch hit further expansion plans. Construction of additional buildings to the New Block was stopped and the Health Department shifted the Outpatient Ward (OP Ward) and the Scanning Centre to the Old Building. Later, the Siddha, Ayurveda and Leprosy Centres were developed in the Old Building.
The New Building houses about 800 inpatients and provides gynecology and pediatric care, besides intensive care. The hospital caters to about five lakh people living in 40 villages surrounding Walajah and Ranipet.
Outpatients, after completing the checkups at the OP Ward, have to cross the Madras-Bombay Trunk Road to reach the New Building to get admitted. Similarly, inpatients need to be taken to the Old Building for scans, including X-ray, ECG, MRI and CT, besides for the medical examination at the OP Ward. All this has to be done on foot, and that too by crossing the busy thoroughfare.
“There are about 800 inpatients in the hospital at any given time. About 20 to 25 patients are carried on wheelchairs or stretchers to the OP ward on the other side of the road at peak traffic hours. There have been several instances of patients getting hit by vehicles. This has resulted in our asking the relatives of the patients to accompany us,” says a hospital staff.
According to official records, the hospital handled about 2,22,480 patients in October this year alone. While about 7,500 to 8,000 were treated at the outpatient ward a day, there were about 840 to 850 patients treated as inpatients everyday. The average number of deliveries at the hospital stood at 50 to 55 a month. While talks of building a subway started sometime in 1996 under the MLA Constituency Development Fund, it failed to see the light of day, say official sources. “We have sent several proposals to the government, but no action has been taken,” a senior doctor said.
Dr Kalivarathan, Joint Director of Health and Family Welfare Department, Vellore, said, “We are considering constructing a subway or a foot overbridge between the two buildings. A proposal will be sent soon. We will tap all possible avenues for funds.”
Putting things into perspective are the Walajah police officials, who say minor accidents at the junction are a regular occurrence, forcing them to put barricades on either side of the road. “About 10,000 to 12,000 vehicles pass through the road everyday. The patients crossing the road face a huge risk. We are in touch with the department concerned to address the issue,” said a senior police officer.