Unable to wait any longer, with its inauguration unduly deferred time and again, the maternity block of the city’s government hospital quietly began services on Tuesday. Performing over 7,000 deliveries a year, the hospital staff said they just couldn’t wait any longer for it to be formally inaugurated to begin services.
Nearly seven years ago, the former complex was pulled down to build a new one. The five-floor building at Government Lady Goschen Hospital soon garnered notoriety for repeatedly failing to meet its deadline. The first being 2013, the latest being March this year.
The staff, however, refuted the claim that the building in its current form is not completed. Instead they alleged that a state and Central Minister are at the root of the trouble – State Health Minister KR Ramesh Kumar and Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
"Citing one reason or the other, the two have repeatedly turned down the invitation to the inaugural," a senior staff familiar with the developments said.
According to the hospital staff, even recently they were told that the two leaders would finally visit on March 15th or 16th, and inaugurate the new complex, but then they again stepped back at the last minute.
"It’s high time; the building should have been inaugurated by now. Both the staff and the patients are suffering. But with election around the corner, we fear that the Model Code of Conduct will soon be imposed, and political parties will again shelve the inauguration till June," a doctor at the hospital said.
According to sources, once the rains begin it will be difficult for the staff and patients to adapt to a new place, which is why, in consultation with the district administration, they initiated the functioning of the new block.
"We have moved the patients and concerned doctors to the ground floor. Every week from now on, we will move additional facilities and services to the subsequent floor such as the Labour Theatre, the Children's Ward and the Maternity Ward. Within a month, we will completely occupy the building, officially inaugurated or not," a member of the staff said.
The hospital as it was being constructed.
Since the initial stages, the new complex of the 168-year old facility has been embroiled in controversy.
Two foundation stone-laying ceremonies were held for this building, after an Andhra Pradesh-based entrepreneur backed out from his donation of Rs 18 crore for the project. Apparently, instead of ensuring that the donation reached their accounts first, the government razed the old building to the ground in 2011. But when the donor backed out, the local government found itself in a dilemma.
It was then, with the Central government’s intervention, a sum of Rs 21.70 crore was donated by ONGC-MRPL out of its Corporate Social Responsibility fund. Further, Deputy Commissioner Sasikanth Senthil S said an additional Rs 10 crore was given by the state government under the Karnataka Health System Development and Reform Project.
"It is for this reason that the district administration feels obligated to invite both the Central and state leaders for the inaugural," a hospital official said.
Meanwhile, maternity cases continue to pour in to the hospital from Mangaluru itself, apart from Chitradurga, Devanagere, Shimogga, Udupi and Kerala’s Kasaragod.
"Most of the cases are non-locals; they come here with their immediate families and the entire space at the existing building is cramped as a result and we cannot function. Therefore, we badly need the new complex to operate," a staff said.
Speaking to TNM, Dr Savitha, medical superintendent at the hospital, said that only the OPD ward has been shifted to the new building, that too on 'trial run'.
"The construction of the fifth floor is ongoing; so we may not be able to move immediately as it will be inconvenient to the patients. We feel all the work will be completed within a month, and only then the government will be satisfied that all the safety parameters are in place and we can start services full time. Only then they will inaugurate the premise," she said.
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