A mysterious lady strolls in with a baby boy in tow, sporting a ‘burkah’ that could rival a secret agent’s disguise. She’s got a tight grip on a four-year-old girl with one hand, who’s clutching a paper toy like it’s the last piece of treasure on Earth. Meanwhile, a pint-sized boy, not a day over ten, is loitering by the doorway, as if contemplating whether to enter the room or seek adventure elsewhere.
The lady gracefully parks herself on a rickety little chair next to my table, ready to regale me with the epic saga of her baby boy’s ailments. After hearing her out, I politely demand the OP prescription. She beckons her daughter, who’s now having a playful showdown with her older brother. The little girl dashes to her mother, who swiftly snatches the paper toy, initiating an operation to unravel the mysterious cylindrical scroll. I take charge of the paper collection, wrestle with it like it’s a Rubik’s Cube, and miraculously unveil the infant’s prescription to scribble down the remedies. Finally, after a conference with this charming quartet, she drops the bombshell, “Oh, my eldest daughter has caught the fever and a runny nose too, but she’s chilling at her aunt’s place right now. Could you prescribe the same meds for her?”
You might think this is just another day at the OPD, but here’s the kicker—I managed to examine this entire cast of characters in a mere 10 minutes! There were about 150 patients awaiting their turn on that rainy day. Even if I started seeing patients at the crack of dawn, I’d be lucky to finish the OPD before tea time, and that’s not even considering quick pit stops for minor surgical acts like wound-suturing and abscess drainage. The ironic twist is that I’ve become accustomed to this whirlwind doctor-patient tango. At the outset of my career, I was plagued by guilt, but over time, I’ve come to terms with my limitations in this bustling setup. As for the patients, they’ve perfected the art of this performance. Consulting a government doctor during fever season is more essential to them than the quality of care they receive at the hospital.
Being the lone ranger in this medical outpost is challenging enough, but my Primary Health Centre’s OPD has been a thriving circus for the past two years. When summer rolls in, the patient count drops to a breezy 100, and those days are a breath of fresh air for me. Yet, running a hospital is more than just playing host at the OPD. It’s a daunting, rollercoaster ride, but it’s doable. I promise, I’ll share more about these adventures in the days to come.
Until then, folks…