Tag Archives: Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Hospital

All’s Well That Ends Well

It was in January 2018 that I gathered sufficient courage to see a doctor for removal of my 40-year-old multiple sebaceous cysts on my scalp. As you can see in the pic above, they were now swelling and could no longer be ignored, so it was now or never.

The doctor exclaimed when he saw them and asked why I hadn’t come to him earlier. His advice was that although they needed to be removed at the earliest, they couldn’t be excised at one go as healing might be an issue. This implied that I had to go for a series of bloody excisions with very short intervals, each one to be done after the previous one healed completely. Each surgery involved partial removal of hair around the cyst.

This was, in fact, the main reason why I had been postponing this matter. If you have ever worked in the Indian private sector where jobs are never secure, you would know what I mean. Sometimes you get fired because of extremely flimsy reasons without getting any chance to explain.

Apart from my fear of losing my job, I had other apprehensions too. Having grown up as a Sikh, frequent removal of hair was not something I felt very comfortable about.

These surgeries could not be covered under insurance at a private hospital as they did not require overnight stay.

I was terrified initially, to be honest, because of the huge amount of uncertainty involved. I had never gone through anything like this before.

I chose DDU Hospital, Hari Nagar, for these surgeries, as it is near my home and it is a government hospital where all services are free. It seemed to be the only suitable option for us.

One big problem with a private hospital in India is that they look at you more as a goose that lays golden eggs and less as a human being in distress, requiring special care. You often end up with a huge bill with unforeseen hidden expenses. It is rather ironical that in India, even after paying more at a private hospital, there is no guarantee that you will get better medical attention. There is always a risk of things getting botched up.

In any case, in regards to surgeries, even the minor ones, my personal opinion based on years of experience as a Medical Rep. is that it is better to get them done in either government or charitable hospitals. Their doctors don’t have any vested interests and the diagnostic tests they prescribe are those that are absolutely necessary.

I don’t mean to say that there is no negligence at government hospitals and no one is greedy, but at least, people are accountable for their actions and you don’t have to sell off your property to get good quality treatment for your loved ones.

And these days, even the washrooms in government hospitals including DDU have undergone remarkable improvement. The flushes work and the sinks too look cleaner, generally speaking. This pic below is from inside a ladies washroom in the OPD section of DDU. If you have the older picture of the same loo in your mind from about 5 years ago, you probably won’t believe this!

After completion of the sugar test and FNAC and receipt of their reports, which took about a week, I was asked to report at the minor OT for the first procedure on 6 February 2018.

On the D-date, 6 February 2018, I was outwardly calm, but I was trembling inside and my throat felt dry while the doctors worked on my head.

The surgery was done under local anesthesia and was over in a jiffy, to my pleasant surprise! I walked out with 2 cysts less; yes, two, not just one, as they were very close to each other. See my pic below…a big weight off my head, literally!


I had overheard a few fellow patients saying that these days, unlike previous years, the medicines that DDU doctors prescribe are available for free inside the hospital. But you need to stand in long queues. I visited the medicines counter myself and found that this was true indeed. (See the pic below).


So I chose the more convenient option of purchasing the antibiotics and painkillers from the government’s subsidized medicines store right outside the OPD. The queue was not very long.

There were several banners right above the shop, each one displaying a beaming picture of Prime Minister Modi with his characteristic smile that we common people always associate with his elusive promise of ‘acche din’ meaning ‘happy days’ ahead. They seemed to be competing with smiling Kejriwals all over the place, promoting free medicines, diagnostic tests, and services for all….

A strip of Unomox (antibiotic medicine) normally costs around Rs.250 at an ordinary drug store, but I got the same medicine under a generic name from this place for just Rs.99!

See these pics below.



I found this rather puzzling. Surely, with a city bursting at its seams with huge manpower looking for government jobs, the government can always hire more people and increase the nunber of counters for dispensing of free drugs, can’t they?

My 21-year-daughter had this to say. “Mom, if they remove the queues at free medicines counters, no one will buy those medicines, not even those who can afford them. The government needn’t support those who are already better off.” I agreed with her on this.

Well, by the grace of God and my family’s loving care, which included change of bandages every night, my wounds healed fast.

Three weeks later, I returned for treatment of the next cyst…I had already lost my job by then, which was what I had always dreaded. But I had another one in hand, so I was more relaxed this time. The road ahead appeared to be pretty familiar now. I hope to be cyst-free by the end of 2018…

I subsequently got my long-overdue cancer screening tests also done through this hospital through the Delhi Government’s DAK (Delhi Aarogya Kosh) scheme. That’s the scheme that the Kejriwal posters refer to regarding free medicines, tests, etc. All of my tests were done free. One of them, the mammogram, was done at a diagnostic center near my home as it could not be done inside the hospital.

Recently, there was a media report about an impoverished Bollywood actress’s appeal to the famous actor Salman Khan for financial help as she was ill with tuberculosis and didn’t have money for even a cup of tea!

Link: http://www.india.com/showbiz/salman-khans-ailing-veergati-co-star-pooja-dadwal-finally-receives-help-from-ravi-kishan-2957186/

I wonder if a well-wisher ever suggested to her to quietly check into a government hospital instead of demeaning herself the way she did. There is nothing wrong, mind you, in asking for help, but you should do that only when all other options have run out.

Our governments, both state and central, implement a lot of schemes to ensure that everyone has a decent, dignified life without having to beg anyone. But because of lack of awareness at the ground level, benefits of these schemes don’t always reach everyone that they are intended for.

Well, as Shakespeare wrote, “All’s well that ends well…”

Prisoners’ Hospital

Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Hospital (DDUH), Hari Nagar, Delhi


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There is a government hospital in Delhi, the capital city of India, where all patients are prisoners; some live in a real prison, the Tihar Jail, and the rest live in emotional jails created by their illnesses. But this is where the similarity ends.




The Tihar prisoners don’t have to wait in queues as the Police constables accompanying them just barge in wherever required, handcuffs and all. It’s probably one of those few places where law breakers and law keepers walk hand-in-hand!

This hospital was established in 1970 and gets its name from the famous Indian philosopher and political activist Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya. From 50 beds, it has  now grown to a 500-bedded hospital with a 24 hours’ open Casualty.

I have a deep, emotional connection with this hospital. It began about 25 years ago, around 1991, when I was a Medical Rep. in a pharmaceutical company and a visit to DDU hospital used to be a part of my monthly tour plan. I was a young, naïve, unmarried girl in my early 20s at that time.

During one of those visits, while I was coming down a crowded staircase, I ran into a handcuffed prisoner tied to a constable. Quite unexpectedly, the prisoner took out a letter from his pocket and handed it over to me. Hurriedly, he said, “Madam, isko please post kar dena (Madam, please post it for me). Without waiting for any reply from me, he turned around and kept walking. A few seconds later, he dissolved within the suffering mass of thronging humanity inside the hospital’s premises. For several seconds, I remained frozen and kept on holding the letter in my hand. As soon as I recovered, I went to the post office and got it posted.

It was the Gynaecology OPD that I always dreaded the most, but I couldn’t avoid it as it was a vital part of my tour plan. I still remember that incident when I came across a woman lying in a pool of blood  on the floor right outside the corridors. She was having a miscarriage while the world around her walked by in callous disregard…Something like this would probably not happen now.

Compared to other OPDs, Gynae. OPD was always the most crowded and getting undivided attention from the doctors used to be very difficult. I observed that they subjected every patient to an internal exam. The cries of pain that sneaked out through the curtains while I waited always made me cringe inside.  They gave me the first hint of the gruesomeness of becoming pregnant and having a baby.  I wonder why they don’t invent less humiliating and traumatic techniques of physical examination.

Once I heard a Gynae. doctor euphemistically advising a patient, “Yeh dawai roz lena aur apne pati se kuch din mat milna.” Translated into English, this means, “Take this medicine daily and don’t meet your husband for a few days…”

And then one day, while I was distributing free samples of my company’s anti-inflammatory enzyme and antibiotics to a group of Casualty doctors in DDU,  a severely wounded prisoner was admitted. All the doctors and nurses on duty rushed to attend to him.  Once he was seated on the bed, he coughed out blood. A few seconds later, some blackish-brown solid things popped out of his mouth and fell on the bed.  It was obvious that he was brutally beaten. Some of his internal organs had got dismantled and were expelled. He still had his handcuffs on him. It was a horrible sight and I just couldn’t bear to watch it any longer. I left in haste  and prayed that I never have to see anything like this again in my entire life.

Many years later, around 1999, I came to this hospital’s Emergency as a terrified mother with a badly injured and profusely bleeding child. I was pleasantly surprised to find the staff so prompt and efficient. By then I had already joined a different profession and I hardly knew anyone in the hospital. It is an open secret that to get best possible treatment in a government hospital in India, you need to have good ‘connections’ and I was happy to be proved wrong this time.

My most recent visit to DDUH was this month (May 2016). Not only was I treated well, I also found a lot of improvement in several areas. But there is still a long way to go.  ACs have been installed in the OPDs, but only those in the Paediatrics department were working. Wooden benches have been replaced by stainless chairs which are more comfortable. Toilets were horrible and running water was not available. At several windows, patients were waiting patiently in long queues. The only place where some amount of creativity and thought seemed to have been applied was the Paediatrics OPD.

It’s rather tragic that so many crores of rupees disappear annually in scams, while the general public battles it out in these poorly managed government hospitals. Chief Minister Mr. Arvind Kejriwal and Health Minister Mr. Satyender Jain, are you listening?

Here are some latest photographs, good, bad, and ugly. Ugly ones are in the end…

Good things first…






Pics from Paediatrics OPD (the only OPD where ACs were working…)



Now the Bad Ones…The grim realities…

Comfortable chairs, but long wait, non-functioning ACs, overcrowding, overworked staff



Ugly ones…Brace yourself for what will see now…

Dirty toilets, no running water, no housekeeping staff…(A suggestion to Mr. Satyender Jain: Hand over the toilets to Sulabh. They manage toilets very well).



A Storm Over An Earring


Sometimes trivial problems turn into medical emergencies. An earring, stuck because of a hardened plastic stopper, got me admitted into a Hospital Emergency recently!

A few months ago, I began wearing a pair of gold earrings with an unusual design. They had a very thin gold chain running through each of the studs and the chain remained hanging from the ear. They were my favorite earrings because of their light weight and elegant look. I wore them all the time, since they went well with every dress, both in office and outside.

Last week, I felt an itching sensation on my ear lobes. When I touched them with my finger, I found an accumulation of wax around the studs. So I decided that it was high time I removed the earrings and cleaned my ears thoroughly.  I managed to remove the right earring, but the left one remained stuck. I pushed and pulled several times, but all in vain. Every time I tugged at it, I felt a shooting kind of pain going through my temple. Both my husband and my daughter tried to help, but the pain was simply too much. That was when I decided that I would get this earring removed in a hospital. But before that, I had to go to the office. Several colleagues asked me why I was wearing just one earring. I joked about it and said, “This is my latest style statement!”

Just before I headed for the hospital, an office friend very confidently offered to remove it for me. I said, “‘Alright, let’s make one last try.”

While she tugged and pulled, she muttered, “Waheguru” several times. But the earring remained subbornly intact and my pain was simply too unbearable. My ear also became red and swollen. So she gave up and I decided that that was it.

I stepped out and went straightaway to DDU (Deen Dayal Upadhyaya) Hospital at Hari Nagar, since it’s very close to my office. It’s a government hospital, but its Emergency Department is super efficient. I know this from past experience. That was when my daughter was 3 and got a severe cut on her forehead after slipping from a swing. She bled profusely on our way to the hospital and we were really frightened. We wondered if her eyes were injured too. It was a Sunday evening and no private doctor was available. So we took her to DDUH’s Emergency. Their response was prompt and timely and it was over in just one hour. She got 7 stitches that day.

DDUH staff is quite well-trained and well-experienced. They receive a lot of patients daily from the nearby Tihar Jail too, often in a severely battered condition. Tihar Jail houses some of India’s deadliest criminals.

This time, I was pleasantly surprised to find the hospital looking much cleaner and more orderly than before. The Security staff  was not only present in much bigger numbers, but they were also much smarter, better-looking, more polite, and more helpful. Gone are the days, it seems, of just a few surly ex-servicemen with outdated rifles making feeble attempts to control hundreds of unruly patients and their attendants. The patients who moved around in the corridors that day included a few handcuffed prisoners being herded around by policemen from Tihar.  That’s quite a usual sight here.

Once the entry formalities were done, they reassured me by saying, “Don’t worry. If your ear gets cut or torn during pulling, we will stitch it.”

My heart began beating fast in terror as they got their instruments ready. A minute later, they got me seated on a stool.

The doctor said, “Get me the forceps.”

I kept my eyes shut, prepared for the worst with prayers on my lips.

“Place some cotton wool.”

“There’s no cotton wool.”

“Alright. Put the forceps here and pull gently.”

I felt that shooting pain again, but it was not as intense as it was at home. There was a ‘cut’ sound at that instant and I let out a muffled shriek.

“It’s over now,” the doctor said.

Slowly and gently, she pulled the plastic stopper of the earring over the chain and handed it over to me with a smile.

“There you go. Happy now?”

The doctor’s assistant rubbed some antiseptic on my ear and that was the end of my ordeal. Finally, when I came out of the hospital, I felt extremely happy and relieved. The best part of it was that my only expenditure was on bus fare from office to hospital and back (Rs.10 only!) I didn’t have to pay a single penny for my treatment.

A shop nearby was running a special sale of night wear. I gifted myself a pair of nighties that day.

Here are some more pics. As you can see, Delhi Government seems to be making huge efforts to ensure that the poorest of the poor get basic health care and there seems to be greater transparency these days. A smiling face of Delhi’s Chief Minister Kejriwal gazes reassuringly at the public thronging around from the huge banners hung all over the premises.

Another interesting thing I saw was the rainwater harvesting tank. This is part of the government’s determination to conserve water and ensure water security for Delhiites. It really felt great! For a change, our government seems to be working at the micro level too. Keep it up! That’s all I can say at this juncture.

I noticed this lovely Bougainvillea just before entering the hospital premises.


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New potted plants were arriving that day as part of government’s drive to make the premises look better. A gardener looks curiously at me while I try to click his picture discreetly from my mobile phone!




Take a look at these Government Smileys! These posters are spreading this message in Hindi, “Medicines prescribed by doctors in this hospital are completely free. If you don’t get any medicine, sms on 8745051111. This has been made possible because of honest governance.”




The signboard below indicates that all services are complementary. This has been done to prevent corruption.


The Hospital Security Staff…


Isn’t that lovely? This Rain Water Harvesting Tank? It fills me with hope and joy

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DDU Hospital & Tihar Jail Coordination

DDUH houses a little police station which coordinates between Tihar Jail and Hospital to ensure treatment for the Tihar prisoners. The Jail ambulance keeps coming and going.




Prisoners being taken by policemen from Hospital Police Station to DDU Hospital for treatment and back…


And here I am, on my way back to the office, with empty ear lobes, feeling happy and light…

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And here are those flowery dresses that I bought for myself…



—Jasbir Chatterjee

14 May 2016