Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Accountability in GH - 4 (Enquiry at the Gosha hospital)

We had previously filed a corruption complaint in GOSHA hospital and it came for enquiry yesterday(30th Jan). So Prabha, Bharathi (the person who had to pay bribes, while her cousin was admitted for delivery) and I went to the GOSHA hospital just on time. We were made to sit for about half an hour. Then the director came out and started gathering all the staff. We thought it was for the enquiry. Only later we realised that she was collecting all the staff to remembering Gandhi (since it was his death anniversary) by observing one minute's silence, followed by a resolution, to uphold principles, be a good citizen etc etc. The irony for us need hardly be mentioned.

Then we waited for a little more time. We were called into the RMO's office. When we filed our complaint, we had complained about watchmen, female attenders and sweepers. We had also given the date and the rough time when Bharathi had to pay money. All the female attenders who were on the duty at the time we had mentioned were called one by one inside and we were asked to identify the cuplrits. Bharathi said no to the first person. Then a second lady walked in. Bharathi said that this lady was among the group which had demanded money, though she was not the one who verbally asked for it. The RMO also told us that he was not the one who was supposed to conduct the enquiry but it was somebody else, and on that day morning, this RMO was handed over the job of conducting the enquiry. He told us that this was the reason, why he had not got everybody ready. He called up another person and ordered him to get all the watchmen to our room. Then the RMO just called all the ladies inside. Bharathi identified one more lady. She was the one who demanded money saying "Kudu ma, mutha kuzhanthai thaane, athuvum aan kozhanthai, kudu. 300 ruba kudu" (Give! This is the first child right and that too a male child. Give 300 rupees). They had refused to let the mother's mother in law in unless 300 rupees was given. So we identified this lady. The RMO was also very impatient. He kept telling Bharathi that she should identify people clearly and that she should tell events clearly. People who are not confident when they complain will feel threatened when subjected to the way the RMO talked. But by and large, he was ok. He clearly saw that money was taken and was helping us identify people. After we identified this lady, she tried to get away by saying things like "Look at my face and tell me. Did I ask you for money??" and all that. But the RMO was very strict with her asking her not to do such things. The nurse superintendent who was also there, tried to find holes in our evidence saying things like "how could you know?" and also things like since the patient's mother-in-law was the attender, she should come for the enquiry.

The RMO also asked us why we waited for so long to file a complaint (we filed it one month after the delivery) and also why Bharathi had not called up the number that was put up on boards in many places in the hospital as the one to be contacted if anybody asks for a bribe). We tried to explain to him that no patient (or their attenders) would call up and complain while the patient is still in the hospital. I also told him, that I had written to the Vigilance (DVAC) about it and only later complained to the hospital.

At the end of the enquiry we could still not identify the lady who took the 300 from Bharathi saying that only then they will be allowed to see the baby. Neither could we get a chance to identify the watchmen or the sweepers. But the RMO decided that we end the enquiry for that day and continue it on some other day, when they will be better prepared for the enquiry. Then we met the director and then came away. The second part might happen sometime next week.

But if anybody is wondering why file a complaint at all, there are two reasons. One, is just to do the right thing. The other is to know the system and also somehow get in touch with the hospital authorities and try finding a solution to the problem.

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