Founded on 22 June 1897, and inaugurated in 1900 by Lord Curzon, the British viceroy, Victoria Hospital has seen many changes. From the 140 bed strength to becoming the second largest hospital in India capable of handling a bed strength of 1000 patients, the number keeps increasing as we speak of it.
They say with power comes responsibility and we are not talking about Spiderman taking down Octavius Prime, but how sometimes the fame of a hospital can add notoriety and attract a lot of negative vibe which can come as a threat to the hospital’s reputation. Moreover, being a government hospital stirs up the judgmental side of people, quickly coming down to the questioning its operation and how effective it is.
Having so many controversies attached to it, we visited the hospital last week to gather first hand impressions. Two students from the dental department say, “Government facilities are for people, so people themselves should take care of what they are being provided with. They themselves do not cooperate and then blame the government.” This sheds light to the much- questioned cleanliness factor that has long been questioned by the people who take the facilities for granted but not realize that the situation is a reflection of how people treat the hospital.
Post-Graduation Student, Deepa says the hospital is much cleaner compared to other government hospitals though the equipment are little outdated in comparison. One other problem was how patients have to run from building to building for various tests. But she says, the problem will be solved once the trauma section of the hospital is inaugurated. Another house- surgeon who prefers to be anonymous says that while the Victoria hospital has technologies which are top notch for a government hospital, the doctor patient ratio is what kills the equation bringing down the hospital’s reputation. The cost of treatment is remarkably low. For instance, endoscopy test that costs Rs16, 000 in a private hospital is done at Rs. 4,000 and, if the patient has a BPL card, the cost comes down to Rs.2,000 at this hospital.
Some unanswered questions were answered by Ramiza Begum, head nurse in the burns department who has been working at the hospital for the past 25 years. She says that most burn patients are victims of sexual abuse and dowry harassment. What makes the situation worse is that even innocent children are not spared from such crime. Most burn patients are treated immediately even when a MLC (Medico legal case) is involved. Because most victims involved in MLCs are hard to crack open, often it becomes difficult to understand the situation and offer speedy solution, Ramiza says.
We were in a shock at the emergency room which had no equipment. It seemed like any another ward. Vibha, intern, says half of the patients who come to this ward are on the last stage and they are given the basic treatment here. Afterwards they are sent to concerned departments. No doctor was present at the time, except for an intern and a PG student. The cancer department building is falling apart. No one is allowed inside. As we walked we met three cleaning women who had been fired from the job because of alleged internal politics. One of them claimed that they had lost their job because one of the nurses didn’t like them. The hospital has hired inexperienced staff on higher salaries. Nurses, however, refused to speak with us.
The last stop we made was the Victoria Hospital Police Station to understand how Medico Legal Cases are handled. The police agreed with Ramiza Begum that since most victims add a dose of salt and pepper to their story it becomes intimidating for the police to trace the roots of the crimes and provide justice to the victims. Once in a while they receive cases that are hard to crack which means working late hours into the night to bring the situation in control. This brings us to the question, is it right to draw a conclusion based on how much the hospital has been looked down upon recent years? It may be fair to say that Victoria Hospital, despite the various shortcomings facing it, has been serving the people and saving lives. Its infrastructure and facilities should not be compared with those available at the private hospitals for the simple reason that patients here do not have to sell their kidneys in order to afford medical treatment.
Contributors: Khushboo, Pavani, Namrata, John