Demonetisation: At KEM, abusive civic staff make hay even as patients suffer

Updated: Nov 18, 2016, 08:44 IST | Rupsa Chakraborty

At KEM Hospital, it’s only patients who need to queue up patiently. The doctors and staffers, on the other hand, can just cut in line and exchange their money first, and then go on to abuse anyone who dares to complain

Patients stand in a queue to exchange their old currency at the counter opened by the postal department
Patients stand in a queue to exchange their old currency at the counter opened by the postal department

At KEM Hospital, it’s only patients who need to queue up patiently. The doctors and staffers, on the other hand, can just cut in line and exchange their money first, and then go on to abuse anyone who dares to complain. That is exactly what mid-day witnessed yesterday while following up on the new exchange counters that opened at the hospital recently.

A hospital staffer cuts in to exchange his money and then abuses the patients who complainA hospital staffer (circled) cuts in to exchange his money and then abuses the patients who complain
A hospital staffer cuts in to exchange his money and then abuses the patients who complain

On Tuesday, mid-day had reported that KEM was the first hospital to introduce currency exchange counters for both patients and hospital staffers.

When the patients standing in line complain, he starts abusing them and tells them to leave
When the patients standing in line complain, he starts abusing them and tells them to leave

Just a few days down the line though, patients and their families started to cry foul when they realised that while they have to queue up for hours together, the hospital workers can just waltz in and walk away with new currency. For many of the poor patients standing in line, by the time their turn arrives, the counter no longer has any cash to exchange.

Also Read: KEM Hospital lends helping hand to patients in need of change

As this paper had reported earlier, two such counters were opened at KEM — one by the postal department and another by the Punjab National Bank. Together, these counters could exchange up to Rs 15 lakh of old currency for new. However, the PNB counter was shut yesterday due to a defunct counting machine. This led to an even thicker crowd outside the postal department’s counter.

Abuse of power
mid-day visited the counter yesterday, just in time to see a brawl break out between a hospital employee and the patients. The staffer had managed to walk past the queue and get into the counter, emerging with brand new currency notes. When the patients standing in queue began to protest, the hospital employee yelled, “The counter is only for staff members. If you can’t stand in line, go away. Tujhe chahiye toh le, nahi toh baahar nikal. Jisko zarurat hai, yaha khada rahega; tujhe zarurat nahi toh jaa yaha se.”

Read Story: At KEM, defunct notes worth Rs 15 lakh were exchanged on first day

Ramesh Jadhav, one of the people who had objected, said, “We have been standing in line for hours, and medical staffers are directly getting inside the counter to take their money. Are we fools to stand in the queue for so long? My mother is admitted to the hospital and needs my presence round the clock. But I am standing here for hours, while hospital staffers are misusing their power to cut in line.”

Dean says
This reporter reached out to the hospital dean, Dr Avinash Supe, who said that he would take appropriate steps and come up with a solution for the issue. “The counters are for patients and doctors. I will inform the entire department of this. If patients can stand in long queues then the medical staff will also be instructed to do so,” he said.

Meanwhile, yesterday, BYL Nair Charitable Hospital also introduced a similar counter to help patients and staffers get rid of their defunct cash. These counters are exchanging up to Rs 4,500, as per government rules.

Voices

Sushma Dhuri (59) Patient’s mother
‘My 28-year-old daughter is undergoing treatment here for cancer. For any tests and examinations, we are referred to labs and medical stores outside, which refuse to accept the old currency. I have been standing in the line for the past two hours’’

Suresh Aklekar (34) Patient operated on for hernia
‘I underwent a surgery for hernia four days ago, but needed change. I thought that it would be easier to get change in the hospital. I have been standing here for more than 90 minutes’

Rs 10 lakh
Amount of cash held by the postal department’s counter

Rs 5 lakh
Amount of cash held by PNB’s counter

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