Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Visit To A Government Hospital

As part of my English project, I visited a government hospital last week to understand what it's like and well, just for the experience. I finished the written part of the project sooo here it is. 

There's something awful about the way hospitals smell. It's not just the chemicals and antiseptics. There's this sense of impending doom that hangs in the air. The Osmania General Hospital (OGH) is as malodorous as any other government hospital. It is one of the oldest hospitals in India run by the Government of Andhra Pradesh. It is also a training hospital for housing doctors specializing in medicine, surgery and orthopaedics. The other specializations are located in numerous hospitals around the city which are affiliated to OGH. The hospital has a number of buildings in which different departments and wards are situated. One of the buildings comprises of a blood bank, wards, labs and two separate canteens. The hospital was built in 1925 under the reign of the seventh Nizam. It was constructed during the City Improvement Board and it holds architectural styling designed by Vincent Esch. The canteen, verandahs and huge high-ceiligned halls are filled with people. Most of the walls are covered with missing posters for the patients who were lost in the hospital. It makes you wonder how many of them actually turned up again or if there was a reason for their disappearance. Given it's almost been a century since it's been built it surely is a wonder that the hospital still stands. There have been several attempts by the alumni of the Osmania Medical College to get the state government to upgrade the infrastructure but they have not recieved any confirmation as of now. 
The halls seemed to go on forever and would take an unexpected turn here and there. No matter where you were standing, there'd be at least one patient lying somewhere on the floor.  It's terrible watching someone in pain at an arms length away from you knowing you can't do anything to help them. An old man was lying on the floor of one such corridor with a variety of tubes attached to him and he lay there in the heat with his wife sitting protectively next to him. It's sad that only at moments like this we question ourselves about what we've actually contributed to the society. Should have, would have, could have. 
The patient intake; both inpatient and outpatient, consists of people from either the rural parts of the state or from the slum areas of the city. They can not afford to go to nice, air-conditioned institutions so they have to settle for the hard floor of a government hospital like this one. At times it seemed like everything was in utter disarray but I am in awe at the way the orderlies work around their hectic schedules and still manage to stay on track. Things might not move with clock-wise precision but they have a different type of routine that seems to work for them. Throughout the course of the day, I saw many instances where I thought things would definitely fall apart but were always taken care of. I presume this is what the saying "The only order in the universe is just a cycle of calm and chaos" means. If I had a heightened sense of smell then maybe I would have been able to differentiate between the various odours I came across but I had to settle for classifying them as just another foul odour. But then I decided that maybe it was best I didn't know what the smells were in fear of an involuntary gag reflex. 
One of the first things I saw was a metal trolley being pushed around by two men. They stopped in a ward next to a patient with an amputated leg. I wondered what was inside and they were open to the idea of me having a look inside their cart. Well who wouldn't want to appear inviting to  a stranger walking around with a camera? They lifted each lid on the food cart and I got to see what the patients were being served. There were four chambers in all for dal, sambhar, milk and rice. At the underside of the cart they had bananas and several cartons of eggs; an essential source of nourishment. Soon after that I saw a little boy walking around with a pot filled to the brim with rice with a single banana placed on top. Other than the humans in OHG, certain animals roam the corridors with complete freedom. The little creatures are at home under hospital beds or near the canteen looking for a bite to eat. Cats and dogs are usually seen lounging in one of the wards whereas the occasional monkey is shooed away by the attenders. 
The patient intake into the wards depends on the days of the week, such that each day represents a ward number. On a Tuesday patients would be admitted into Ward II. When I was inside Ward IV, I saw tins filled with lots of capsules. All the wards have free medication and glucose solution in stock for the patients; available to them free of cost. I saw a few of the people sitting on the floor with their plates of food without a worry. 
I learnt that there are certain factors to be considered before being admitted into an Intensive Care Unit or another one. Depending on the levels of severity a patient could be submitted into the Intermediary Emergency Care (IEC) or ICU. There's also a Intensive Coronary Care Unit (ICCU); not to be confused with ICU, which is a ward specialized in the care of patients with heart attacks, cardiac, dsyrhythmia and other cardiac conditions. At the blood bank I was shown the different freezers where the blood is kept. There are a series of processes that are involved in the testing of the blood, each of which has a designated freezer. There were doctors moving around with peculiar looking apparatus in the serology lab. I also learnt that if there is an emergency case and a patient requires blood immediately, it's taken from the blood bank but their share must be returned within the next five days without fail; possibly from one of their family or friends. 

Little kids looked into my camera with eyes full of wonder and adults looked confused and curious. But the ones lying on the beds could  only give me eyes full of sorrow and I could only empathize with them for a few seconds because I couldn't bear to look any longer. I felt like I was snatching away bits of their lives without asking permission when I could not even provide them any solace. There was a story behind every single set of those eyes and they sung out to the heavens about their unfortunate instances. Each of them seemed to be screaming inwardly and could only slump back across their cold beds waiting for what seemed like forever. There were men, women and children but they were mothers, fathers, daughters and sons of someone. They each had a tale but none were whispered in my ear.  

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