10 patients abandoned per month at Kovai GH, lack of ward adds to woes

Sources said that recently a hospital staff rescued an elderly abandoned man near the casualty ward and sent him for treatment.
Unknown destitute patients are being helped by volunteers and NGOs at Coimbatore Medical College Hospital
Unknown destitute patients are being helped by volunteers and NGOs at Coimbatore Medical College Hospital(Photo | Express)

COIMBATORE: As the number of abandoned sick elderly people at Coimbatore Medical College Hospital (CMCH) is increasing, the hospital staff and NGOs are finding it hard to help them after the closure of the ‘unknown patients ward’.

Most of the destitute people are forced to take treatment without caretakers and survive within the hospital premises. Some of them even die.

A nurse said, “If there is a ward to handle unknown sick patients, many NGOs come forward to serve them. Unavailability of the ward forces us to take care of such patients in regular wards and it is difficult to manage them without caretakers.”

Another staff nurse said, “Mostly the family members of sick elderly people abandon them within the hospital premises at night or they are rescued and sent to the hospital by the public and as there is a shortage of staff, we are not able to give them special attention. Every patient needs a caretaker to take them for medical tests and bring them food, medicines, etc. It is practically impossible for the staff to care for every patient.”

Sources said that recently a hospital staff rescued an elderly abandoned man near the casualty ward and sent him for treatment.

Before that, he was left for around two days without care and the private security guards thought he had a caretaker. As he does not remember anything except his name, the case was referred to the police. However, he died soon after.

M Ganesh founder of Helping Hearts NGO said, “Most of the elderly people are abandoned by their family members as they feel that they will be treated if left on the hospital premises. In the last one year alone we rescued 176 destitute people and the the previous year 186 people were rescued. Out of which 5 to 10 are rescued monthly from the CMCH campus. We reunite 80% of them with their families and a few die of sickness. Of the rest, those who are willing, we take them to our home and others remain in the hospital. We are trying to tackle this issue as much as possible but if the hospital reopens the unknown patients ward again, it will be easier.”

Sources said that the ward existed till pre-pandemic and NGOs- Helping Hearts and Change Trust took care of such patients. However, with the closure of the ward, abandoned patients have to be treated along with other patients and that is difficult for volunteers to visit every ward and serve them.

When asked, CMCH Dean A Nirmala told TNIE that they closed the ward due to space constraints and are planning to open the ward after they get space in the new super specialty block.

(For full report, visit newindianexpress.com)

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