Screaming, abusing and threatening the authorities a man rushes past! It was the third incident that week. It was only a day before that same intensity of screaming and shouting was followed by violent sobs. There was a loss of life! A young woman had entered the premises just around 9 at night. There was as it is few staff in the labour room then (I still don’t know if they can work out some kind of duty by round system). Her eyes looked full of grief; it was as though she would not be able to survive the pain. But she did! Her child could not-it died soon after birth. It seems that the child was in the womb for ‘too long’! It could not breathe when it came out, and no one knew what to do. Next day the story was a little different, we lost the mother itself!
Here let me take a few words to introduce myself; I am known as Referral hospital, Naubatpur, which is a block in Patna district, Bihar (It seems it is due to the fact that most of the cases are not handled here, but only referred out!). It is also sad but true that my premises are (or ‘were’ perhaps, but still there is a lot of scope of improvement) not too good, they are just ‘Ok’ types. Apart from that, the disinterested look on the face of the facility staff is what used to scare me most! They don’t seem to be dealing with human lives; all had become so very mechanical in their work.
The status of the Operation Theatre was not much different. At most times, it was a locked quite room except for ‘Family planning operation day’ (usually a Thursday). It is on this day that one could see a huge line; you could spot women of all ages there! And if you happen to interact with them, you would come to know that perhaps they have about 4-5 children in their family already (Come to think of that; they have already overdue their share of producing babies!). The Operation Theatre was so ‘little’ clean that more than cure, people might actually end up having infections in my vicinity. And my so called “Hospital Manager” (I rather call him a blind horse) who runs my management; used to close his eyes and run after only the performance indicators! All said and done, it still remained a big zero!
The frustration which I could sense among the OPD patients was immeasurable too. They didn’t seem to get any medicines there most of the times. I even heard one of the patients say “If we have to pay here too, what is the meaning of coming to a Government facility?” Just after this the store-keeper realised that the whole new stock of medicines was consumed by termites. Imagine, at one place people don’t get medicines and at other place it rots inside my stores! What a paradoxical situation………….
It was when the situation was at its worst that few young people came into picture. They were from CARE, an organization which had started its operations in Bihar recently. The project which was named as Integrated Family Health Initiative had a huge buying. It was to help improve the health facilities; it was about me!
The whole concept of ‘problem bank’ was initiated which helped the staff to realise the problems they had and work for them collectively.
Few simple practices such as hand-washing at all ‘important steps’ was internalised. Renovation of almost all areas; OT, Labour room, New born corner and wards was another face-lift I had (Almost like a plastic surgery!). More importantly, my staff got trained. Rigorous training and handholding was needed for all here!
It just about setting some things right there. I could never imagine that a little ‘order’ in the work could help reduce the frustration level of staff so much. It was not so much change in work structure but way the work was viewed now!
I am proud to say that now no woman or child dies here; either the complications are handled well or they are referred to higher facilities on time. Neither does the ‘operations’ happen in camp mode-like a herd of cattle. Now there is a family planning corner where the counsellor talks about the “Basket of choices” to the beneficiaries ie we talk about offering eligible couples;15-49 of age (who caters to the ones who get pregnant before that, is what I still think about!) all kinds of methods of spacing and limiting. (Workers do not talk about female sterilization only, which has an incentive attached!)
I felt like an orphan since a few months back, no one would claim me! My building was in shambles and there used to be only dogs in and around my compound. I felt that perhaps the end was near when my building would be broken and a “Fancy Mall” would be made in my place. (I have heard that is what is happening to all the old buildings now)
It has been quite a journey; I am an old man now! So is the Gulmohar tree in my compound which was once very green; and in the times of spring you could not even spot a leave on it, it was so full of lovely red flowers. It got dry in between, dry and old; just as me. But you know what? I spotted a few green leaves on it the other day. My story too goes in the same fashion…………..Voila! My prayers were answered! CARE team came to my block and now, it seems CARE had adopted me! I am also in the process of repair now and whitewashed-white and red (as Hospital Code, you see!) Now as you look at me I shine like a new coin, just out of the mine!I hold the dream of being able to provide better services to people, close to my heart. I believe I would truly be a Referral hospital (not just by name, but in practice-as Shakespeare said” What’s in a Name?”)