Live and dead pigs create a stench; patients, authorities blame each other
Mangalam Basuvaraj sat in a corner of the hospital closing her nose with the pallu of her saree. She had accompanied her injured husband to the hospital.
This is a common scene at the government hospital in Shahpur, 500 km from Bengaluru. The condition of the hospital, which caters to nearby villages and towns, is pathetic.
“We do not have a place to sit. We are made to sit on the floor. There is always a bad smell at the end of each corridor as pigs are found dead. They do not clean up,” Mangalam said.
Other patients said the same.
But Mohammed Mashak, a second division assistant at the hospital, blamed the crowd. “The cleaning staff, though few in number, clean the hospital frequently. It is because of the crowd that the hospital turns dirty immediately.”
About 2,000 patients visit the hospital every week, said Dr V.M. Patil, vector-borne disease control supervisor, National Health Mission.
Under the Swachh Bharat Mission, there are various guidelines that are to be followed by public health facilities. These include cleaning of the labour room, cleaning of miscellaneous areas in hospitals, cleaning of operation theatres, basic cleanliness of health care facilities, drainage, and sewage management.
The number of staff recommended for a 100-200-bed hospital is 15 sanitary workers plus seven for the emergency and main OTs, plus one for the blood bank.
Dr Patil said: “This hospital has better facilities and treatment than PHCs. People come here because of this. We have doctors in every department. We have around 20 staff who clean the hospital regularly. Compared to other government hospitals, I would say cleanliness here is OK.”
The hospital campus has pigs, live and dead, creating a stench.
“Pigs are common here. Nobody drives them away. The carcasses of pigs are taken away only after we inform the municipality,” informed a nurse who refused to share her name.
Doctors’ cabins do not have name boards, making it impossible for patients to know where they should await their turn. The receptionists seem clueless about which doctor sees patients in which cabin; they ask patients find out for themselves.
The hospital doesn’t have adequate lab technicians. Taluk health officer Dr Ramesh said it is because of the lack of education and awareness. “In a town like Shahpur, there are not many hospitals and doctors. The lab technicians here are contract-based.”
Dr Priya Ramachandran, who works at St John’s Medical Hospital, said every hospital should follow the guidelines on hygiene. “Availability of basic needs like electricity and running water along with other lab facilities should be there in every hospital irrespective of where it is located. The other is that they should know how to manage and maintain these facilities. Workers should be trained. The hospital area should be properly fenced so that animals like dogs and pigs don’t enter the premises and litter the area.”
According to Indian Public Health Standards guidelines, district hospitals should be in a position to provide all basic specialty services; they should develop super-specialty services gradually. These hospitals need to be ready for epidemics and disaster management all the time.