MADURAI: A minor fire broke out at the Intensive Medical Care Unit (IMCU) of Government Rajaji Hospital (GRH) in the wee hours on Thursday due to electrical short circuit in one of the air conditioners. Following the fire, the patients were shifted out of the ward.
According to P Sagaya Mary (28) from Virudhunagar district and mother of a teenage boy, who was receiving treatment at IMCU (ward number 115), “Around 2.30 am, I woke up all of a sudden and saw smoke emerging out from one of the air conditioners in the ward. It soon began to fill the room. The smoke was accompanied by electrical sparks that later turned into a minor fire.”
She added that the patients were immediately shifted out of the ward. Sources said that the electrical short circuit was the result of power overloading on the air-conditioner that should be switched off once in a while in a day.
Speaking about the incident, the hospital dean Dr K Vanitha said that since the electricity supply was disconnected immediately, a major accident that could have otherwise led to severe damages was averted.
Following the incident, thirteen patients, of whom six who were on ventilator were moved out of the 14-bed ward and shifted to toxicology wards (ward numbers 113 and 113A), triage ward (ward number 5 A) and to the Intensive Respiratory Care Unit (IRCU).
However, one of the 13 patients at IMCU — 66-year-old Thanikodi, a resident of Melaanupanadi — allegedly suffered a cardiac arrest while being shifted out of IMCU and breathed his last hours later.
Dr Vanitha denied any link between the cardiac arrest and the shifting process.
“The patient had a history of multiple serious ailments and was in a vegetative state owing to paralysis. He had undergone a coronary bypass two years ago and craniotomy (surgical operation in which a bone flap is temporarily removed from the skull to access the brain) recently to treat intracerebral hemorrhage at a leading private hospital before he was admitted at GRH on January 25 and was put on life support,” she clarified.
The dean also stated that no one suffered any injury and that no equipment was damaged, except for the one air conditioner during the incident.
The IMCU was later shut down and electrical rewiring and rebuilding of the false ceiling was carried out the same evening. The ward is expected to be reopened after a thorough inspection on Friday.