Even as dead bodies continued to raise a stink in the civic body-run Rajawadi hospital, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is still looking the other way.
Corpses have been languishing in open for more than six hours at the hospital. Even as hospital authorities admitted that this has put patients and visitors at risk of infection, they said they don’t have any other place to store the bodies.
The in-house morgue, with a capacity to store 15 bodies, has been shut for more than two weeks with its air-conditioning system not working properly. “As per protocol, we shift bodies in the cold storage facility after two hours of being declared dead. The inquest report and panchnama might happen over another few hours near the morgue, but the body shouldn’t be left out in the open.
Due to shutdown of the morgue, as many as 12 bodies can be seen in the open at the hospital all day for lack of proper storage facilities. It raises a horrible stink and patients are left vulnerable to infection,” said a hospital worker.
Sources at the hospital said that ideally, AC repairs in the morgue should be undertaken every 10 years. But the cooling system in the hospital morgue hasn’t been revamped for 15 years. “We have made alternative arrangements for shifting unclaimed dead bodies. But if corpses are being kept in open for up to six hours, we will investigate the matter,” said Dr Seema Malik, director, BMC peripheral hospitals.
Experts said that soaring temperatures and humidity may lead to decomposition of a corpse after six hours since death. “Once the decomposition starts, the body starts smelling foul. The corpse has to be stored in a secluded area at four degrees or less. It is against human dignity to make patients queue up near corpses as it heightens chances of infection. It also raises the risk of the corpse being stolen from police custody by relatives who don’t wish for a post-mortem to take place,” said Dr Shailesh Mohite, head of forensic medicine department, Nair hospital.
BMC authorities said that the AC repair work in the morgue will continue till April 11 until which they are arranging for unclaimed bodies to be shifted to other state- and BMC-run post-mortem centres or cold storage facilities.“The continuous AC repair work has put additional load on the state post-mortem facility. We have 42 cabinets to store corpses and 35 of these are occupied. If the BMC-run morgue doesn’t start functioning in a week, we will be overflowing with corpses,” a source at the post-mortem centre in Rajawadi said.