No night shelters, patients get ‘cold treatment’

Every year, as the temperatures dip, patients who come for treatment to Delhi's government hospitals and their families, are forced to battle the cold on the pavements outside the campuses of hospitals.

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) is the only government hospital, which has two night shelters, run by the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), on its campus.

Patients in other hospitals are left to find shelter wherever they can — on a blanket on the pavement, under flyovers, beneath vending carts.

A 14-year-old girl from Deoria district in UP, who suffered burns after an electrical pole fell on her, was admitted to Safdarjung Hospital's Burns department 10 days ago. Even as doctors go about treating her, the girl's family, with nowhere else to go, has set up a tent outside the department.

"It gets very cold here. Only one attendant is allowed to stay with the patient and four of us are here from the family. There is a waiting room in the hospital but it is very crowded. The hospital's dharamshala also has a waiting list. So we brought a tent from the INA market and sleep in it," the girl's cousin said.

The family members of other patients just huddle up under blankets next to each other. Faisal, whose wife was admitted to the burns ward two weeks ago, sleeps with his one-year-old child outside — his mother-in-law sleeps with his wife in the ward.

"The doctor had written a note for us to be admitted in the dharamshala. But it is so crowded there, it is impossible for us to get any space. I prefer to sleep outside the ward. I try my best to keep my baby warm," he said.

Earlier this year, senior officials of DUSIB had said that they had written to the Health department, requesting permission to set up night shelters in at least two hospitals — Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital and Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital — but with no results.

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