Surviving a heart attack in the afternoon has been a tough fight for many patients rushed to the state government hospitals, as the cardiac catherization laboratories — where doctors clear blocks in blood vessels and place a stent — close by 2 pm. With just one assistant professor and a few postgraduate students on duty, patients are given medicines to dissolve clots and taken to the catherization lab the next day. Although not many die during the wait, the delay results in longer hospitalization and cost. The state health department has now realized that keeping the catherization labs open 24 hours saves more lives and cumulative health cost. Tamil Nadu Medical Service Corporation, which has been setting up these high-end labs in medical colleges is providing loans to ensure the lab remains open round-the-clock, with adequate staff. “The colleges will have to work, get the money through the chief minister’s health insurance scheme and repay us,” said TNMSC managing director P Umanath.
On Monday, the state health department started its 10th cath lab at the Government Chengalpattu Medical College Hospital along with a loan of ₹12 lakh. Two weeks ago, ₹12 lakh was given to the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital. It has released ₹12 lakh each to medical colleges in Tiruchi and Kilpauk, where operations are yet to begin. At the Rajiv Gandhi Hospital, where there are two cath labs and nearly 25 cardiologists, doctors are working out strategies including buying services of technicians and doctors to keep the lab open 24 hours. “The number of procedures we have been doing under the chief ministers’ health insurance scheme has increased in the last six months. But many patients go to private hospitals because they know we are not open after 2 pm. We are working out shifts to ensure the work flow is not affected at night,” said Madras Medical College dean Dr Jayanthi.
In the last six months, there were 770 procedures done in the seven government hospitals compared to 1274 procedures in seven private hospitals. At the Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital, 229 procedures were done in the past six months. The Madurai hospital did 227 procedures and the Omandurar hospital in Chennai did 132, while Stanley recorded only 37. Salem had just 12 cases. Active private hospitals around government hospitals grabbed most patients with chief minister’s health insurance. “Once we have a robust cath lab in GH, our hospitals will make revenue and remain self-sustained. It will also reduce the out of pocket expenditure for the families,” said health minister C Vijaya Baskar. – TOI