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In an absolutely shocking incident, a pregnant woman was turned away from the Government Mohan Kumarmanglam Medical College and Hospital in Salem because she couldn t pay the Rs 1000-bribe that the hospital demanded. Later, she gave birth to a healthy male baby on the pavement near the Salem Old Bus Stand on Sunday. Lakshmi lives with her husband Samuel and their two children on a roadside tenement near the bus stand.
She had gone to the government hospital on Sunday morning after developing labour pain. The staff at the hospital refused to admit us unless we paid Rs 1,000 as bribe although treatment is free at the hospital, said Samuel. He said despite telling hospital staff that he did not have any money and was a platform dweller, the hospital staff insisted that he pay the sum. Since we could not pay the money, we returned to our tenement and an old lady helped Lakshmi with the delivery on the platform, Samuel said.
Senior doctors at the hospital said it was a clear case of medical negligence and the guilty needed to be taken to task. The Dean of the hospital, Dr R. Vallinayagam said that this matter would be the investigated and the people on duty doctors, nurses and other staff members would be punished if found guilty. We will take strong action against those involved, Dr Vallinayagam said.
What is the use of having free public healthcare facilities if the people who really need them people who can t afford private care aren t able to use them? A hospital administrator who has worked for years in hospital administration says that this is not a one-off case and paying an under-the-table bribe is the norm for almost all medical procedures right from simple dressing to bigger procedures like delivering a baby. And everyone at the hospital takes a bite from the pie from the topmost doctors to the ward-boys. It s ironic really, this incident happened on the same day as which the Union Health Minister was lauding his government s efforts and how they had transformed the medical sector! The truth is nothing can change, until we weed out the corrupt mentality that has infected our nation.
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