The Kerala floods, which took over 300 lives and rendered several lakhs homeless, have also destriyed the 125-year-old Chalakudy Taluk Hospital in Thrissur district. The 140-bed hospital, seen as one of the best in the country, has suffered a loss of over Rs 10 crore. About 3.5 lakh people in the area are dependent on this facility.
On August 15, when 12-foot-high waters entered the state-of-the-art hospital, patients, including those in the ICU and post-operative care had to be rescued using boats. They were sent to nearby facilities with basic infrastructure.
Dr Shiv Prasad, director of the hospital, who himself cleaned his room, is worried about the patients in need of dialysis. He says, "Thirty five dialysis patients who we were being treated here are having difficulties."
The floods have destroyed medicines worth Rs 1.5 crore, and equipment, including dialysis, ultrasound machines worth Rs 2.5 crore. A huge pile of medicines is waiting in a corner for its safe disposal. Records of admission, services and that of doctors and staff have also been destroyed.
The sight of the hospital is heartbreaking. All the equipment, furniture and fixtures have been moved out for thorough cleaning. More than a hundred volunteers from the excise department are working with the hospital team to clean every single item.
The hospital, which was started during the British Era, had recently applied for the National Quality Assurance (NQA) standards certification and was hopeful of grabbing the number one rank in the country.
It's officially closed, but the staff isn't turning away outpatients. A patient told NDTV, "It's a good hopsital. We need this back soon."
Another patient added, "It's the best hospital for people in the radius of 15 km. If it's closed, we have to travel 30 km."
Kerala Minister for Agriculture Sunil Kumar has promised that the hospital will be up and running in a few months. "It's one of the best hospitals in the country," he said.
The floods have been described as the worst to hit Kerala since 1924. More than a million people were forced to take shelter in relief centres. The state is counting losses and needs thousands of crores to recover and rebuild.