Two men who are completely blind have been taking shelter at the eye ward in Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) in Thimphu. One of the men has been in JDWNRH for more than two years and the other man has been admitted for more than a month. With no family members or relatives helping them so far, they rely on their ward mates for assistance.
The paper learned that no one has visited them within the timeframe or have come forward to take care of them despite repeated calls made by the hospital management.
An ex-army personal, Rinchen Dorji, 73, was left abandoned in the hospital for more than two years. He is from Lobesa, Punakha. He is visually and physically impaired.
“I had two siblings and a wife. I lost them all. I lost my wife at the age of sixty and we didn’t have kids,” Rinchen Dorji said.
He said his eye and hands were perfect till the age of 61. After losing his wife, he decided take up religious practice and was living in a small hut near Thimphu Zangthopelri. Unfortunately, Rinchen Dorji could not devote the rest of his life in prayers and meditation as his hut burnt down, nearly killing him.
“I almost died in that incident. In my sleep at around 1 am in the morning, a few children were shouting and waking me up. By the time, I was on fire. They brought me to the hospital and that is how I became handicapped and also blind,” an emotional Sangay Dorji said with tears in his eyes.
He receives Kidu from His Majesty’s Kidu Office. He said he is thankful for the monetary Kidu that he receives every month.
“I am hoping for someone to come and help me. Just now, I am happy and thankful that hospital is taking care of me and the people in ward share their meals and help me to walk to the toilet,” he said.
Similarly, Tandin, 56, has been in the eye ward for a month. He is from Tsento, Paro and has served in the army. His nephew brought him to the hospital last month but has not returned to visit him since then.
According to a woman in the same ward, Tandin showed signs of having mental problems. She said that he stays awake the whole night and sleeps the whole day. “He sometimes picks the blanket and says he want to go out at night,” she added.
Tandin lost his wife but has two daughters and one son. JDWNRH has tried to contact his family but no one has turned up so far. He is currently under medical supervision.
According to the Superintendent, JDWNRH, Dr Gosar Pema, the abandoned patients are occupying the beds that can be used by other patients that are in serious need of medical attention.
Dr Gosar Pema said, “Actually, such people should not be staying in the hospital because turnover is important, in a sense that when one is recovered, they will be discharged then somebody else can be admitted.”
He pointed out that the hospital personal relations officer sends alerts on such abandoned patients through the media so that their families and relatives can claim the patients. But in the case of the two men, nothing could be done. The patients have provided some details on their relatives and JDWNRH has sent letters to their respective village Gups.
“It is not that the patient should be taken out if he is seriously ill, but the eye specialist has ruled out by that it is impossible for both the patients to regain their eyesight,” Dr Gosar Pema said, further adding that they are not sick but disabled.