Dec 29, 2008

India - A month on, the pain lingers

Rahi Gaikwad

The road to recovery has been a long one for many patients

MUMBAI: For thirty-year-old Anil Varal, the rounds of tests and treatment are not yet over. He is too feeble to even speak. With shrapnel wounds in his abdomen, his movement is restricted and he needs to be attended to constantly. He has a fever and is to undergo some tests for tuberculosis.

A bank employee, Varal was injured in a grenade attack at Nariman House. He was among the locals who did their bit outside the building till the police arrived on the scene.

The road to recovery has been a long one for a number of patients. A month after the terror attacks, many are still confined to their beds at the hospitals. At the J.J. Hospital, Byculla, 24 patients are still recuperating. At Bombay Hospital the number is six.

J.J. Hospital received the highest number of patients. One hundred and eleven victims were admitted and 22 sought treatment in its outpatient department (OPD). Six victims in the critical care unit succumbed to their injuries.

The death toll has moved up from the initial figure of 171 to 174.

Around 114 post mortems were done at J.J. Hospital alone, where the body of a civilian, an Indian, still lies unclaimed along with the nine bodies of terrorists.

At the Cama Hospital, a small garland of flowers outside the six-storied building pays tribute to its two slain workers, Baban Ugade and Bhanu Narkar.

“I cannot imagine how they [the terrorists] jumped the gate with their heavy bags,” says Ms. Indumati Shirsat, staff nurse at the Cama hospital, her eyes welling up. “The ward staff responded with such courage. None of the patients was hurt.”

Words of praise cannot adequately explain their bravery, she says. “It is the uniform that makes you do brave acts. When you are in a uniform, you think of the others first.”

November 26 had taught them many lessons. “There is police presence. New grills are being constructed. I have asked the staff to keep a baton, knife, torch, candle and rope, and save important numbers on mobile phones. I have told them to familiarise themselves with the location of the light switches and the exits and also inform the patients about them,” she says.

The Bombay Hospital too took quick measures in the face of an emergency, says Dr. Ashish Tiwari.

“Under the direction of our medical director Dr. D.P. Vyas, we followed the triage system of classifying patients into emergency, urgent and not-urgent. All the 84 patients who came in were first admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). We have 142 ICU beds and did not face any crunch when victims started pouring in. One team was stationed at the front gate with ward boys and stretchers to receive the patients as they came in.

“We received patients for three days. However, the first day was the most difficult. We opened all our OPDs, operation theatres and diagnostic departments. We started operating upon patients from 11 p.m. on November 26 and our doctors performed 30 operations in one night.

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