The first rehabilitation ward in south Tamil Nadu at the Government Rajaji Hospital (GRH) in Madurai is now completely non-functional. This is because no caretakers are present in the ward to take care of the people abandoned by their families. This ward was opened for poor people in December 2020.
It is the second such centre in the state after the one at the Chennai government general hospital.
The dedicated rehabilitation ward was set up by the GRH after the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) sent a notice to the Director of Medical Education (DME), following the refusal by the GRH staff to admit an injured person from Godhra in Gujarat due to lack of caretakers and support staff.
The 12-bed rehabilitation ward was established at the GRH hospital and was inaugurated on December 31, 2020. The ward catered to patients abandoned by families and those who did not have anyone to look after them.
After the patients recovered fully, they were either shifted to shelter homes or were taken care of by their families. Madurai-based NGO ‘Idhayam Trust’ was manning the rehabilitation ward with a staff nurse and a cleanliness worker of GRH posted in the ward to aid the NGO.
The social workers of the NGO were taking care of the ward and the patients but following a criminal case of illegal adoption of a child, Idhayam Trust was closed by the court, and its Executive Director, Shivakumar was arrested and jailed.
Now the ward has been reopened at the trauma care unit of the GRH hospital but without caretakers, the ward is not properly functioning and an appeal by the District Social Welfare Board for NGOs and health caretakers to take up assignments at the GRH rehabilitation ward was not received well.
Murugesh Raman, a social worker at Madurai, told IANS, “NGOs are not ready to take this up as it is dedicated work and most of the NGOs here are not in sound financial health with funds drying up and hence most of them have not accepted the request from the Welfare Board.”
A senior doctor at the hospital told IANS, “Nurses and cleanliness workers are reporting for duty in this ward now but what’s lacking is a dedicated group of social workers. Hope some NGO will come forward to help the patients here recover and then unite them with their families.”
The district administration, however, said the issue would be resolved in a week’s time.