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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Covid cases dip in Mumbai but govt hospitals still a long way from performing routine surgeries

Even as the Covid-19 load has significantly reduced since last month, coming down to 400 to 500 new cases a day currently, patients with other ailments continue to be refused treatment.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai |
Updated: January 26, 2021 8:55:50 am
Outside the vaccination centre at Rajawadi Hospital in Ghatkopar. (Photo: Amit Chakravarty)

Operation theatres (OT) continue to remain under repair in many government hospitals of Mumbai, affecting routine surgeries, which have been put on hold since last March when the city was put under a lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Even as the Covid-19 load has significantly reduced since last month, coming down to 400 to 500 new cases a day currently, patients with other ailments continue to be refused treatment.

Sufiyan Usmani (24) met with an accident on Sunday in Mumbra and injured his leg. His brother Mohamed Usmani rushed him to Nair hospital when he realised the cost of private care was unaffordable in Mumbra. “We reached Nair hospital at 4 pm. At 5.45 pm, a doctor saw my brother and said he needs emergency surgery but their OT is not functioning. He asked us to go to JJ hospital,” said Mohamed. He argued with the hospital staff and forced them to admit Sufiyan.

Till Monday, Sufiyan has not undergone an operation. A hospital doctor said that the trauma ward, where surgeries are held, has been converted into a Covid-19 facility, affecting the number of surgeries being conducted.

In Rajawadi hospital, one of the two OTs has been shut since last year. The hospital performs give to six operations in a day – down from 10 to 12 before the pandemic began.

The main OT started functioning a month ago and conducts general operations along with those related to gynaecology and accidents. The second OT, meant for orthopaedics cases, is undergoing repairs. It was shut for several months and the equipment may have developed fungal growth.

While orthopaedic procedures have reduced, only emergency patients are operated upon in the main OT.

On January 23, Basharat Sayed (20) was rushed from Govandi to Rajawadi hospital for a leg surgery following a fall. The nearest municipal hospital, Govandi Shatabdi hospital, is not accepting patients who do not have Covid-19, and referred him to Rajawadi hospital.

In Rajawadi hospital, doctors informed Sayed they can only operate on the hand and asked him to visit another hospital. “When the family insisted, the doctors made him sign a document that their OT is shut and he is remaining in the hospital by his choice. His surgery has still not been conducted,” said Shoeb Hashim, a local resident.

Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr Vidya Thakur said they will have to refer Sayed to Sion hospital for surgery. “One OT is under repair. Currently, we are not undertaking long bone surgeries, which he requires. We have to wait for lab reports to confirm there is no fungal growth in the OT before reopening it.”

In Babasaheb Ambedkar Kandivali Shatabdi hospital, two OTs for general surgery are shut since last March. The hospital was converted into a dedicated Covid-19 hospital and all other patients were referred to Dr R N Cooper hospital.

Last November, the hospital was reconverted into a general facility but the OTs are yet to start functioning. The OT equipment has developed fungus and requires fumigation and deep cleaning. For this, samples of the equipment have been sent to a laboratory to check for fungal or bacterial growth through a culture test.

“The first swab sample results have come, we have sent a second swab from OT for culture test. The results are expected this week. Hopefully, the OT will start soon,” said a medical officer from the hospital.

Several BMC-run hospitals have also not reopened their OTs for routine surgeries. Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said he will soon review the number of surgeries each hospital is conducting.

In the state-run Gokuldas Tejpal Hospital, orthopaedic procedures have come down from 80 to 30 in a month. A doctor said that this is despite hardly any Covid-19 patient being treated at the hospital. “For surgery, we need anaesthetists, they have been deputed on Covid-19 duty. Many surgeries have to be postponed because of lack of anaesthetists,” the doctor added.

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