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Madurai: After NGO scandal, GRH ward for destitute patients seeks caregivers

Since its inception, the ward was manned by a social worker from city-based NGO Idhayam Trust, and had a staff nurse and a cleanliness worker of GRH posted as ward in-charge as an additional duty.

Published: 21st September 2021 05:22 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st September 2021 05:22 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

MADURAI: The rehabilitation ward, arranged at the Government Rajaji Hospital (GRH) about nine months ago to house patients abandoned by families, now wears an abandoned look with no social worker/NGO volunteer taking care of patients.

The 12-bedded rehabilitation ward on the first floor of the Trauma Care Centre (TCC) block was inaugurated on December 31 last year. Patients abandoned by families and those who do not have caretakers are being treated at the ward until rehabilitation. Upon recovery, the patients would be either shifted to shelter homes or reunited with families, with the help of the police and the social welfare department.

Since its inception, the ward was manned by a social worker from city-based NGO Idhayam Trust, and had a staff nurse and a cleanliness worker of GRH posted as ward in-charge as an additional duty.Taking turns, social workers who were at the ward from morning till late evening took care of the basic needs of the patients who are elderly and mostly bedridden.

TNIE, a few months ago, observed that the social worker used to change diapers, feed meals, walk patients to the toilets, change their clothes, arrange haircuts and have conversations with them throughout the day to soothe their agony.

However, when the TCC block was converted into an annexe Covid wing, the patients were sent to the shelter home of Idhayam Trust in mid-April. Later, the shelter home was sealed on July 1 after allegations of child trafficking rose against the NGO’s executive director G Sivakumar who was arrested and lodged in prison.

Meanwhile, the ward reopened at the TCC block in the first week of July, but without a caregiver. Presently, 10 patients are lodged at the ward. Due to a lack of support from the District Social Welfare Department to rehabilitate or reunite with families, even patients who are fit for discharge continue to be lodged in the ward, sources said. 

“Although the staff nurse and cleanliness workers tend to patients at the rehabilitation ward now, there is certainly a need for service-minded volunteers or social workers to be with them as they require individual care,” said a hospital official.

GRH dean Dr A Rathinavel said, “Letters seeking volunteers or registered NGOs that are willing to tie up with the hospital to provide social workers and shift them to shelter homes/reunite with families after treatment, were sent to the District Social Welfare Department. However, it is learnt that hospital workers and volunteers are hesitant to take up the responsibility.”

District Social Welfare Officer (in-charge) Helen Rose was unavailable for comment. Collector Dr S Aneesh Sekhar said, “The issue was not brought to my notice so far. It will be resolved in about a week.”



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