Mangaluru: Mangaluru, a city that maybe small in size but is certainly large at heart. This city is home to people from all walks of life. There have been cases here of homeless people being sheltered, hungry people being fed and people without clothes to keep them warm, being clothed. Amidst all the negativity that the coastal city has been in the news for, there are those less known instances that make Mangaluru a city where humanity still exists in this fast paced and globalised world.
A glimpse of this humanity was witnessed when NewsKarnataka correspondents visited the Government Tuberculosis in-chest diseases centre, situated at Vamanjoor in the city. With all of 26 patients in the hospital, what exactly is unique about this hospital one may wonder? Read on and find out.
The TB Sanatorium, as it is referred to by the localites, was setup in 1955, by the State Government but the existence of which, today, has been entirely forgotten. This is a hospital that treats patients who not only suffer from Tuberculosis but does so completely free of cost. In addition to TB patients, the sanatorium is also a care and support centre for HIV patients.
While the hospital has been forgotten by those who made it, it must be known that this was the only hospital around when the unfortunate incident of school children drowning at the Pilikula Lake took place. This was the hospital that provided primary care for the children who were pulled out of the water. Today and it is rather ironic and unfortunate that today, the hospital is sinking and there is no one to pull them out.
The city houses several hospitals that provide medical care for people, while reserving some cases for charity, where treatment is provided for free. The TB sanatorium while provides free treatment, in addition provides the patients with food three times a day as all of them are either destitutes or come from backgrounds with very less or no means.
“TB is a disease that can be kept in control only with a healthy immune system. These patients don’t have so much money so as to eat as much as they should. Hence they come in here. Apart from rice and vegetables, we ensure that each of them gets 750 ml of milk and three boiled eggs everyday”, says Dr Savitha, the ONLY doctor at the hospital.
Yes, she along with four nurses run the hospital (or what is left of it), takes care of the patients and ensures that they leave the hospital hale and hearty. A herculean and commendable task, if there was one, given the circumstances
The sanatorium itself is in a pathetic condition owing to lack of maintenance. According to Dr Savitha, five years ago, the condition was much worse with leaking roofs. “It reached to a point where we had to treat the patients with umbrellas in our hands”, she said, adding that it was MLA Abhaychndra Jain who then came forward and gave them Rs 5 lakh to do the necessary repairs.
Since the hospital comes under the health sector, the health minister has certain responsibilities towards the same. However, although health minister U T Khader visited the hospital a year ago and promised to have it fully functioning within a year, the sanatorium still remains in a rundown state.
While the property that the hospital is built on is around 235 acres in area, currently only a total of 15 acres have remained as people have built houses in the area. There is no compound wall and hence there has been encroachment of land as well. In these 15 acres, there is no permanent security guard. “We have one night watchman and one cleaner in the hospital, both of whom haven’t received their salaries yet. Their pending salary is over two lakhs”, Dr Savitha said.
Confirming the role of the state government in the condition of the santorium, U T Khader, in a phone interview said, “we have sanctioned an amount towards the repairs and maintenance of the hospital. We have even sanctioned a new superintendent to be transferred there. The money will be received by them soon”.
In response to this information passed on to Dr Savitha, she said, “After much insistence, the state government has sanctioned an amount of 10 lakhs to the hospital, but we have told them that the estimated cost is around a crore, including the staff remuneration. Around 1,55,000 is required for waste management. We haven’t received the required support from the government”.
Speaking further on the lack of staff and other facilities, she said that out of the twenty nine sanctioned Group D’s only four people have been assigned to the hospital. “We need more doctors and nurses. Four people cannot run this place. The nurses do not even have any staff quarters to rest. They work relentlessly and no one seems to be noticing the effort they are putting in”.
On being questioned as to why the government is not paying heed to their requirements, she said, “They don’t think that a TB hospital is required. That maybe true because an entire hospital may not be required. But this is the only hospital in the entire area. They can make the hospital a general hospital and keep a TB ward in it. But disregarding it completely is not right on their part”.
The hospital has an OPD and an in-patient ward and currently houses and treats drunkards, destitutes and economically backward TB patients. The first phase of the TB treatment is done here and in case the patient is too serious he/she is sent to Wenlock Hospital for further treatment. Several people have been treated here and gone home healthy.
The government certainly needs to consider the needs of the people and the hospital and step in to ensure the survival of the hospital. The city could certainly use another government hospital so that more needy patients can be treated. The question then is, whether the state government hospital is really interested in saving this deserted hospital that once was full of life?