Going to the Hospital? Carry Your Own Linen

Hospicio Hospital, Margaon, Goa is one of the two district hospitals in the area. At an average the hospital treats close to 13,000 patients and carries out 300 to 400 surgeries a month. However, the conditions of the basic amenities provided here is an entirely different story. Since November 2011 the hospital has not been able to provide clean bed linen or robes to its patients. India Unheard Community Correspondent, Sulochana Pednekar went through a harrowing experience at the hospital herself and made this video. “My uncle was admitted in the hospital between September and October 2012. He was bed ridden and one day soiled the sheets. When we asked for new linen we were told that we would need to get our own sheets. Another patient’s relative told me that her sister had not been given a hospital robe in the 3 days she spent there. Some people can get them clothes, but what happens if it is an emergency or someone comes from outside Goa?” Says Sulochana. Hospicio sends its bed linen robes and other clothes to the Goa Medical College (GMC) to be washed. Since November 2011, the hospital has not been getting back the clothes it sends, something to the tune of 6000 plus clothes. When hauled up on its shoddy performance, the GMC tells the Hospicio staff that there machines are out of order. GMC also provides laundry services to Asilo Hospital, Mapusa, which is now facing a similar situation with its laundry. With no choice left, Hospicio hospital has started stashing away its dirty laundry in a separate area on the premises. Heaps and heaps of filthy linen just stay put gathering mould and breeding frustration in the patients and staff alike. While filming the story Sulochana spoke to some of the staff. They were reluctant at first to talk but some did come forward to share what they faced on a daily basis. “Eventually we are answerable to the patients because we are the ones who interact with them. I feel bad for them but then my hands are tied, I cannot do anything so I get fired by the patients who are upset and senior staff as well.” Says an attendant at the hospital. Other staff at the hospital pointed out that there have been regular surprise checks by the Chief Minister in the past so that he can keep an eye on the functioning of the hospital. But obviously this hasn’t made any difference. The Government of Goa’s webpage about health waxes eloquent about its achievements in healthcare. And yes, Goa does have one of the best health indicators in the country but the frequency with which reports about poor services in the hospitals surface is alarming.  That a large district hospital cannot provide something as basic as clean sheets to its patients is representative of the deep wounds in the system. A 2008 report by commissioners from a Mumbai High Court found that the district hospitals like Hospicio had a large number of vacant posts, lack of essential drugs and dysfunctional machines. Other reports point out that Hospicio lacks amenities like potable water, clean toilets and insufficient space in the morgue. “They are spending money to buy machines and put out schemes. This is good but do they not realise that before they start something new the government needs to fix the existing services?” asks Sulochana. “Next time we go to a hospital for all you know they will give a us a prescription for sheets along with medicines”. The conditions at Hospicio are only a small part of a much wider problem in the State’s healthcare system but it is one that can be addressed with relative ease. Call to Action: Sulochana asks you to call the Superintendent of the Goa Medical College, Dr Sunanda Amonkar on  0832-2495010 and pressurise her to fix the laundry services so that patients at the district hospitals can receive basic facilities like clean linen and robes.   Article By: Kayonaaz Kalyanwala

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