After 12 cases of extremely drug resistant tuberculosis (XXDR-TB) were reported in Mumbai’s PD Hinduja Hospital, chest hospitals across the state are on the radar for any cases of the deathly TB strain.
DNA visited the Aundh Chest Hospital, one of the four chest hospitals in the state, to review the state of affairs and found that it was a sorry situation for both, the patients and even hospital employees.
The first striking fact about the hospital is its deserted look. A 120-bedded hospital with 80 employees, the silence is all pervasive with empty corridors greeting people.
Less than 60 patients get admitted here on an average, admitted medical superintendent Dr Vyankatesh Ingale. “Two wards that were shut down will start operating in a few days and we could have up to 80 patients,” he said.
Chest doctors remember that the TB hospital was once abuzz with activities, and there was a long waiting list of patients. However, once the surgery unit shifted out and home-based therapy started for TB patients, admittance of patients has been fewer.
The surgery unit which had a high success rate was shifted out of the hospital in 2002 to Sassoon hospital that had a medical college attached to it. TB patients in need of surgery are now sent to Sassoon hospital, where very few lung TB surgeries are performed.
“It was a decision of the state government to shift cardiovascular thoracic surgery unit here as there were lot of cardiac patients we could help. However, it is true that we do very few lung TB surgeries here as compared to what we did at Aundh Hospital,” said Dr Avinash Inamdar, head of CVTS unit at Sassoon hospital.
“TB is an infectious because of which the operation theatre needs to be fumigated and closed for two days during operations. Also, a separate ICU isn’t available to patients who require intensive post-operative care,” said Dr Inamdar.
The Aundh Chest Hospital has no intensive care unit as they don’t take any emergency patients. “Patients live here for a couple of months and there is hardly any emergency. If there is, we refer them to civil hospital as we don’t have an ICU or specialist doctors,” said Dr Ingale.
Besides lack of medical expertise, the hospital is functioning on threadbare cleaning and security staffers. The four-storied hospital has three sweepers who work round the clock and just two security guards.
“How can one sweeper take care of an entire building? He is expected to clean manually. So, ward boys who have other duties like dressing etc., double up as sweepers,” said an administrative staff.
Ingale admitted the shortage stressing that extra help is hired on contract to do the job. Besides sanitation problems, staffers complain about lack of adequate protection against infection. DNA saw that none of the staffers wore masks and hand sanitizer bottles or even soaps were missing at wash basins.
“We have the basic surgical single use masks; we will get advanced masks once drug resistant patients are admitted. We have kept soaps, don’t know why they were missing,” claimed Ingale.