It has been two months since the Telangana government announced that a sports village building in Gachibowli in Hyderabad has been converted into a dedicated COVID-19 hospital with 1,500 beds. Though the state claims that the hospital now called as the Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences (TIMS) is ready for operation, work at the hospital is still ongoing and no patients have been admitted here.
Opposition parties in the state have come down heavily on the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) led government for not starting operations at TIMS, despite doctors at Gandhi hospital, the nodal hspital for the state, clearly stating during their thre-day strike, that they were overworked.
The announcement to convert TIMS to a dedicated COVID hospital was made by the Chief Minister on April 20. The working president of the Telangana Rastra Samiti (TRS) party and the Chief Minister's son KT Rama Rao termed the conversion of the hospital for COVID-19 treatment a â€śpersonal initiativeâ€ť of the Chief Minister. In fact, Telangana government had been lauded for 'finishing the work' in 15 days.
Speaking to TNM, Dr B Nagender, Superintendent of Osmania General Hospital, appointed to oversee the work at TIMS claimed that the hospital is ready to begin operations but is waiting for a government nod, â€śDecision with regard to opening and recruitment of TIMS will be taken by the District Medical Office,â€ť said the officer.
It is to be noted that Nagender had earlier stated the hospital will begin admitting patients from May 18, but a month later, TIMS has still not started taking in patients.
On June 14, when a delegation led by Revanth Reddy, Malkajgiri's Member of Parliament (MP) and working president for Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) visited the hospital, work inside the hospital was still ongoing. The cupboards, equipments for the hospital wards were yet to be arranged, the welding work for oxygen pipes to each bed was still ongoing. There were no hospital staff either.
â€śIt's been close to three months since this hospital was inaugurated but still there is not a single patient being treated nor a single doctor working here, except for the four security guards placed here," Revanth Reddy said.
"While doctors at the Gandhi hospital doctors are protesting on the roads and are over burdened with lack of staff and too mant patients, why is the government not utilising the resources at its disposal? Gandhi hospital should be immediately decentralised and some patients should be shifted here, so that the existing staff can be relieved," pointed Revanth Reddy while speaking to the media.
Revanth pointed out that TIMS can accommodate 1,500 patients, however the government has to appoint at least 100 doctors from various districts at this facility and that has not happened. The MP questioned why the government has not appointed an IAS officer to come up with an action plan for the hospital in a bid to reduce the burden on Gandhi Hospital.
The government order granting permission to the Health Department to recruit staff came only on June 2. The order tasks the health department to engage clinical and non-clinical staff for 662 services in various categories on a contract basis and even on deputation from Director of Public Health and Family Welfare for a period of one year.
Revanth also pointed out that the Telangana government has got the nationâ€™s attention with its low testing numbers and it stands at 22nd place in the country in the testing category with less than 50,000 tests. He also compared the state with neigbhouring Andhra Pradesh which has done 5.5 lakh tests.
Despite receiving several donations through the Chief Minister's Relief Fund and having saved money by cutting salaries and pensions of government employees, the government is not bothered to spend money on improving the COVID-19 situation in the state, Revanth Reddy further alleged.
TPCC president Uttam Kumar Reddy told TNM, â€śThe KCR government is only good at making announcements and does not deliver on these announcements. In the coming weeks, we will highlight their failures.â€ť
Not just the Congress, the Communist Party of India (CPI) and BJP has also questioned the delay in making TIMS operational.
In a letter written to Health Minister Eatala Rajendar, the Telangana state secretary of Communist Party of India (CPI) Chanda Venkat Reddy pointed out that no patient has been admitted at the TIMS facility. The leader also criticised the state government for not filling up 20,000 doctor and paramedical posts lying vacant in the state.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also lashed out at the Telangana government. Speaking to TNM, K Laxman, former state BJP chief said, "KCR has to recruit doctors and spend money on the hospital but he is not ready to do it. Being the Chief Minister, he is being casual about the whole pandemic. Since a journalist passed away, the public is not mentally prepared to go to Gandhi Hospital as there is no one to even provide you with water."
"We have written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah to send a team to review the situation in Hyderabad. On Sunday, we wrote a letter to the Health Minister. We are in touch with the Centre," he added.