October 8, 2018
The renowned hill station of Ooty despite of having a population of 7.11 lakh and a floating population of 30 lakh lacks in multi-specialty hospitals. Ooty General Hospital has no super specialty wards for cardiology, neurology, nephrology, gastroenterology and plastic surgery.
In 2016, the then Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, considering the Nilgiris as a special case, announced upgradation at par with medical college hospitals under Rule no. 110 in the Assembly. Under this rule, the CM or any Minister can announce or bring a resolution in the Assembly which can be passed without any discussion.
The aim of upgrading facilities was to ensure that people in the hilly terrains enjoyed the same kind of medical treatment as those in the plains.
Since then, the government has taken proactive steps to upgrade the facilities, set up and installed latest technologies in the medical field. But it turned out to be an exercise in futility, as there are not enough trained technicians. Worse still, government doctors are generally unwilling to take up an assignment in Ooty because of climatic conditions.
Ooty General Hospital with 421 beds, including 116 in the maternity wing, is equipped with a CT and MRI scanner besides digital X-ray, but does not have a radiologist for the MRI scan machine.
“We send MRI scan images to Mumbai and receive reports in a couple of days. Things are improving slowly. However, if you need a neurosurgeon or a cardio surgeon or if any higher intervention is needed then one will have to go to Coimbatore. Also, advanced treatment like radiation or chemotherapy is not available,” Dean of Ooty Medical Hospital Dr K Ravi Kumar.
Ooty has witnessed 23 accidents in the past six months. Most of them proved fatal owing to lack of multispecialty hospitals. The ‘golden hour’ for emergency cases is compromised because of the long drive through the ghat section. At times, victims are rushed to hospitals in Mettupalayam.
Medical Superintendent of Mettupalayam General Hospital Seralathan S says, “We are a college-level hospital. The Government focuses more on district-level hospitals. Hence, if there is any accident , one has to go to Coimbatore or Pollachi for state-of-the-art treatment. We are not equipped to handle trauma cases that well. We are trying to become a district level hospital so that we can have better infrastructure, equipment and in turn serve people better.”
“Every citizen must get a dignified, decent, healthy life. It is our fundamental right. Having the best medical centre is our fundamental right. Necessity of multispecialty is a must. Looking at the alarming numbers, provisions can be made. Hindustan Photo Films Manufacturing Company Limited (HPF) can itself be converted into a multispecialty hospital. The Government should care of the welfare of the people,” said the Director of the People’s Legal Forum.
Congress leader and Ooty legislator R Ganesh had appealed to the government to establish a multi-specialty hospital with air-ambulance facility on the sprawling HPF premises.
As per data available at the National Communicable Diseases Control Department, about 16 per cent of the adult population of the hill district suffers from hypertension while about 10 per cent is diabetic. Both these are high-risk groups susceptible to prime cardio-related illnesses.