Efforts to fill vacancies and upgrade facilities failed to yield results over past two years
When Sushruta Trauma Centre opened in 1998 along the arterial Ring Road, the Delhi government called it its flagship super-specialty facility for accident victims.
The 49-bed centre became the site of a tragedy after 14 years of service. On Tuesday morning, four critical patients in its ICU lost their lives, barely minutes after the centralised oxygen supply system failed for 12 crucial minutes. Another patient died a day later.
It was functioning as an independent unit since 2007, but constantly fighting one problem after another over the years.
There has been shortage of neurologists, anesthetists and radiologists.
As efforts to fill vacancies and upgrade facilities did not yield desired results over the past two years, the government twice thought of closing the hospital.
On both occasions, Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit had to intervene and veto the proposals to shut it down.
Between 2009 and 2010, the Health department considered converting it into a mother and child care hospital and attaching it to a new 450-bed orthopaedic block of Lok Nayak Hospital.
Even the licence to run a blood bank was revoked in 2009, but later reinstated. The hospital does not have a MRI machine. A digital X-ray machine has been under repairs for over a year.
The neurosurgery, anaesthesia and radiology departments have four, three and two vacant posts. There are only 35 nurses, when the sanctioned strength is 55.
As a rule, trauma centres across the world are attached to bigger hospitals to reserve 30 per cent beds for disasters and emergencies. Considering this, Sushruta Trauma Centre has been under the administrative control of Lok Nayak Hospital in 2011.
Delhi Health Minister Dr A K Walia said the trauma centre has been reeling under problems from the beginning. We have learnt many lessons from this project. All future trauma centres will be attached to general hospitals. The distance from a general hospital has proved a big problem here since many specialists at the centre complain that they were not getting enough experience on general surgeries, he said.
To solve this, we tried to attach it to LN Hospital, with a rotational staff posting formula, Dr Walia said.
He said the centre was overburdened because it has to attend to patients from the city as well as the neighbouring states. Efforts were on to augment its facilities, with more ICUs and