In Bihar, doctors treat patients on floor as hospital tries to cope with rush

So chock-a-block are the wards at Muzaffarpur’s Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital with patients suffering from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) that doctors are being forced to treat children on the floor.

At least 43 of the 50 deaths due to AES in Bihar have taken place at this hospital, with Muzaffarpur being the epicentre of the outbreak. Ten other districts have also been affected.

Sri Krishna hospital medical superintendent Sunil Kumar Shahi said, “We have an in-patient bed strength of only 610 whereas the number of patients admitted to our hospital is around 876. We do not refuse any patient, so we put mattresses to treat them on the floor.”

To cope with the rush of patients, the superintendent has converted all 20 beds of the intensive care unit (ICU) into paediatric intensive care units (PICU).

“If we come across patients, who need to be admitted to ICU, we will admit them in the coronary care unit (CCU). Against 14 existing beds at our PICU, I have converted all our 20 ICU beds into PICU, taking the number of beds in PICU up to 34,” Shahi said.

“Given the disease burden, even the central team which is here has suggested increasing the number of PICU beds to 100,” he added.

The government has ensured the availability of all drugs free of cost to AES patients. Sri Krishna hospital is also providing food to patients as well as their attendants. “Though we are not supposed to provide food to patients in PICU, on the advice of health minister Mangal Pandey and principal secretary, health, Sanjay Kumar, I am supplying milk, supplements, fruit, bread and eggs to all AES patients and their attendants on humanitarian grounds,” said Shahi.

The parents of some children being treated at the hospital are satisfied with the facilities provided. Some of them, including Md Aslam Madan Sahni, Ram Bharos Thakur and Gayatri Devi, are hoping the hospital will start supplying diapers free of cost too.