The recent fire at the Deonar dumping ground has brought to fore, once again, the urgent need for the only municipal hospital in the vicinity to get an upgrade. For the huge slum sprawls of Govandi, Mankhurd, Trombay and Chembur, the Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya Shatabdi Hospital, operational in Govandi since 1986, has been the only available municipal health service, awaiting a proposed redevelopment for at least 10 years now.
In 2006, local corporators went on a hunger strike to demand funds for its repair alleging neglect and lack of maintenance, but the hospital continues to function from its rundown structure.
After the fire, hundreds of slum dwellers went to the hospital, and most complained the services were poor.
“It is the largest civic hospital in the area but whenever we have gone there, we have been told doctors are unavailable. Specialist doctors are available only on alternate days leaving us with no option during an emergency but to go to hospitals located farther away,” said Abu Bakr, a Govandi resident.
The redevelopment plan was to include state-of-the-art operation theatres, more intensive care units and a blood bank, apart from specialised services such as plastic surgery. Currently there are no ventilators and only one ICU.
In 2009, the BMC unveiled a repair and development plan for Shatabdi Hospital, including building a seven storey facility with 310 beds on an empty adjacent plot. But though funds were allocated, the repair work and the construction of the new building are yet to be initiated.
Tenders for the project will be opened next month, officials and representatives say. “Currently, deliberation between the engineers and the doctors on the final plan is underway,” said local corporator Rais Shaikh.
According to Dr Pradeep Jadhav, senior medical officer with the BMC, the plan for the new building was recently okayed. The new plan includes a medical college in the space next to the hospital. Till then, though, patients continue to shell out money on small private clinics spanning these slums.