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The pathetic state of three premier health set-ups in Mumbai

Friday, 18 April 2014 - 9:25am IST | Agency: dna

Delays in making already-inaugurated civic hospitals in the western suburbs fully functional are holding up health-care facilities for up to 15 lakh people. While no stone was left unturned in cutting the red ribbons at Jogeshwari’s trauma care, Cooper and Kandivli Shatabdi hospitals, those needing to visit them have been left high and dry. However, BMC chief Sitaram Kunte says, “Even Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani hospital must have started like this (in phases), but since it’s a private hospital, no one questions.” But here is the ground reality: sanctioned posts of doctors and nurses have not been filled for over five months now and lack of cleaners has raised an unbearable stink, report Maitri Porecha & Somita Pal

RN Cooper Hospital, Vile Parle
The biggest BMC hospital in the western suburbs, expected to cater to at least half of the suburban population (nearly 8-9 lakh patients), does not live up to its reputation.

Touted to be a super-specialty hospital, a sizeable number of departments here are non-functional. MRI and CT scan departments in are locked up since inauguration last October. Moreover, the burns ward and ICUs are shut as no doctors have been recruited to run the set-up.

Earlier, this month, Andheri resident Budhaji Ramane, 60, an accident victim, who was knocked down by a speeding tanker, was transferred by Cooper hospital doctors to KEM Hospital due to lack of trauma care facilities. After a delay of close to three hours, Ramane died in KEM.

"There is a gross shortage of doctors. Honorary doctors visit the OPDs every week, but otherwise senior permanent staff has not been recruited," said Dr S Gawde, superintendent, Cooper hospital.

Cooper's construction had begun in 2008 and was pegged for completion in 2011 at an initial budget of Rs250 crore. A senior municipal official said the cost of the project has spiralled astronomically. "While a budget of Rs250 crore had been earmarked for construction of the hospital in 2009, it escalated to Rs325.63 crore," said the official, adding that the process of re-tendering had occurred multiple times. Since June 16 last year, the municipality imposed a penalty of Rs1 lakh a day on Unity Infrastructure, the firm that has undertaken the project of revamping the hospital. So far, this amount has reached Rs3.3 crore, but BMC has recovered not more than Rs44 lakh till date.

There should be five nurses in morning shift, three in afternoon and two in the evening shift. "We are falling short of nurses. Hardly one or two work in each shift. While there are 300 sanctioned posts for ward boys, not even 150 have been filled," said a senior nurse.

Bharat Ratna Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Municipal General Hospital (Kandivli Shatabdi Hospital)
Since the time the hospital was inaugurated, it has been facing the problem of acute shortage of qualified medical staff and long waiting periods for medical services like MRI-CT scans.

The 324-bed hospital was inaugurated on September 2 last year with much fanfare. Employees, however, complain that the red ribbon was cut a tad too hastily. Up to 30% of the sanctioned posts in the hospital are lying vacant.

To mitigate the crumbling condition of a deceptive façade, BMC officials are now engaging in damage control measures by roping in staff from the defunct Bhagwati Hospital in Borivli. "Of the 246 posts, 124, including those of doctors, nurses, ward boys and sweepers, have not been filled. We are roping in staff from Bhagwati Hospital," said Dr S Gawde, acting chief of peripheral hospitals, BMC.

The hospital was built keeping in mind the need to have a peripheral hospital catering to residents between Nalasopara and Jogeshwari besides Bhagwati Hospital. Also, postgraduate students from medicine, surgery and paediatrics are being routed to Kandivli to support the medical staff there.

"Interviews for honorary doctor posts are being conducted. The pay scale for these doctors is being reviewed as the earlier one was less," said Dr Ramesh Bharmal, dean of BYL Nair hospital. The hospital lacks cleanliness and has poor seating arrangements, especially near the ICUs.

Hindu Hruday Samrat Balasaheb Thackeray Trauma Care Hospital, Jogeshwari
It is an irony that the city's first exclusive trauma care centre in Jogeshwari doesn't have basic facilities to handle trauma cases. The 13-storey hospital, which has 304 beds, was built by the BMC to cater mainly to accident victims. Surprisingly, the hospital has more private security guards than doctors, nurses or ward boys.

It has been over five months since the hospital was inaugurated. Road accident victims on Western Express Highway with grievous head injuries are still shifted to Sion hospital.

The BMC has spent Rs125 crore to make this hospital a state-of-the-art facility. However, with the CT scan and MRI department not working and lack of full-time doctors, many patients are still being referred to Sion hospital.

"The trauma centre was supposed to reduce the burden of tertiary care hospitals but with such important facilities lacking, we are forced to refer the patients to Sion or other hospitals. CT scan and MRI machines are very critical part of trauma patient management," said a doctor at the hospital.

The hospital does not have a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the burns ward has been lying locked up.

"Twenty posts of resident doctors, of the total 50, are lying vacant. We are in the process of filling up the posts," said Dr Avinash Supe, in-charge clinical staff, Jogeshwari Trauma Care Hospital.

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