KEM Hospital can seem like a confusing maze for a first-timer. I reached there at 9.55am to get checked up for reduced vision and headache. I had to stand in the queue for almost 40 minutes at the opthalmology OPD counter to get my case papers made. Unlike other BMC hospitals, KEM has OPDs scattered all over the place for different specialties. Without directions and signages, a patient gets lost trying to find his/her way.
Opthalmology OPD has been under renovation since the past one year now. Up to 300 patients are crammed in just over a 1,000 sqft area of the makeshift OPD, which is only partially covered overhead. A crude shed has been erected outside the temporary rooms to accommodate patients. With at least a 100 patients ahead of me, I had to sit on a bench under the harsh summer sun. I shudder to think what will happen during the monsoon.
After an hour, I was directed to a nurse, who made me cover each eye and read alphabets of varying sizes. She then directed me to a doctor, who just spent about 20 seconds observing my eyes and told me to get my glasses checked. She didn't inquire if I had high blood pressure, diabetes or related disorders.
There are just six senior doctors and 20 junior doctors to attend to a high load of patients suffering from cataract, eye cancers, corneal tears, conjunctivitis and a battery of other disorders. A 70-year-old man, Ramesh Shankar, who had to get his eyes operated, was prescribed medicines worth Rs1,000, which were not available in the hospital pharmacy.
Spending close to four hours running around the hospital before getting my eyes checked wore me out. I feel for those who have no option but to wait as they can't afford expensive treatment in private hospitals.
What needs to be done:
The renovation should be finished at the earliest so as not to inconvenience patients. Proper sitting arrangement should be made in OPDs so that hundreds of patients aren't forced to stand in long queues or sit in cramped conditions. Basic medicines should be available at the hospital pharmacy for free.
Dr Arjun Ahuja, head, ophthalmology, KEM Hospital
"The renovation of the OPD has been going on for a year. The BMC had assured that the department would be refurbished within six months. Moreover, we are severely understaffed, with only two units of doctors (four senior and 10 junior in one, two senior and 10 junior in the other). We should be allotted six units."