Bhabha hospital repairs: Two years on, medical facility remains partially defunct

On Monday, over 500 local residents protested outside the hospital demanding speedy repair work, and resumption of medical services. The operation theatre is defunct, forcing all surgical interventions to be referred to Rajawadi or Sion hospitals.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai | Published: December 5, 2017 2:58 am
Over 500 local residents protested outside the hospital demanding speedy repairs, and resumption of medical services. Express

Two years after repairs began on the seven-storey Bhabha hospital in Kurla, it continues to be partially defunct offering minimal services, and forcing over 11 lakh people in L ward (Kurla) — comprising mostly slum-dwellers — to seek medical services from either private hospitals, or government hospitals far away.

On Monday, over 500 local residents protested outside the hospital demanding speedy repair work, and resumption of medical services. The operation theatre is defunct, forcing all surgical interventions to be referred to Rajawadi or Sion hospitals. The hospital does not offer CT scan, sonography or MRI facility and has stopped conducting deliveries as well.

In September, four-month-old Adiba Shaikh suffered a minor fracture in a finger, for which she was made to wait for two hours in the hospital before doctors asked her father to take her to Sion hospital. “They kept saying an orthopedic doctor will come. No one came. We went all the way to Sion for her treatment,” her father Shahid Ali Shaikh said.

Senior citizen Noor Mohammed Shaikh (67) Monday visited the Bhabha hospital after experiencing pain in her hand but was referred to another hospital due to lack of a CT scan. “There are not enough doctors here. Even basic services are hard to get,” he said.

Another patient, Anagha Chauhan, claims the hospital’s facilities had worsened in the last six months due to the prolonged repair work. Spread over six buildings, the Bhabha hospital underwent a structural audit in 2014. While Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) initially planned to demolish the entire hospital, it later finalised a plan to repair the hospital floor by floor.

The phase-wise repairing forced the 326-bed hospital’s operation theatre and in-patient department to shut down. Currently, apart from out-patient department, only medicine and paediatric departments are functioning. The orthopedic, surgery, gynaecology, and other departments have stopped admitting patients.

According to local municipal corporator Dr Saeeda Khan, the BMC spent Rs 3.08 crore on the hospital’s repairs since 2015, but only external repairs have taken place. For 2017-18, BMC had sanctioned Rs 1.65 crore for the work. “The entire work was supposed to be finished by October this year,” she said. In a letter on Monday, she asked the BMC to start the hospital’s five operation theatres, dialysis centre, in-house chemist shop, CCTV cameras, intensive care units, sonography and CT scan facilities, apart from filling posts of medical officers and class III and IV workers.

“The hospital was inaugurated in a hurry before the BMC elections in December 2016. But till date, most of its facilities are defunct. Its blood bank licence was cancelled by the FDA, and has not been renewed,” Khan said. Hospital superintendent Dr K Pimpale said the phase-wise repairs have hurt hospital work. “Our OPD is running smoothly. There is no space for beds as the hospital wards are undergoing repairs. But we are admitting general medicine and paediatric patients,” he said, adding that arrangements have been made to refer patients to nearby BMC hospitals. Pimpale added that within a month, the operation theatres will be repaired. He said the process of procurement of new CT scan, sonography and x-ray machines was under way.

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