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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Mumbai: One week on, civic body probe into Apex Hospital fire yet to begin

The fire broke out in a generator set at Apex Hospital on October 12 evening, the day Mumbai faced a massive power outage. Two patients had died within hours of being transferred from the Apex Hospital.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai | Updated: October 20, 2020 8:46:09 am
Apex Hospital fire, Mumbai hospital fire, Apex Hospital fire deaths, Apex Hospital fire probe, Apex Hospital fire bmc probe, mumbai city newsOn October 13, the BMC had announced a four-member committee has been set up to hold a detailed inquiry into the incident.

A week after a generator set at Apex Hospital caught fire, forcing an emergency evacuation of 38 Covid-19 patients undergoing treatment at the Mulund-based facility to eight other hospitals, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is yet to start a probe into the incident.

The fire broke out in a generator set at Apex Hospital on October 12 evening, the day Mumbai faced a massive power outage. Two patients had died within hours of being transferred from the Apex Hospital. While one of the patients, Pandurang Kulkarni, was already critical, the second patient, Virendra Singh, who was stable, had succumbed after a sudden drop in oxygen levels and pulse rate.

On October 13, the BMC had announced a four-member committee has been set up to hold a detailed inquiry into the incident. The committee, comprising senior civic officials, doctors and officials from the civic body’s Mechanical and Engineering department, was tasked to inspect the hospital’s equipment, generator’s maintenance and the procedure undertaken while transferring 38 patients to other hospitals, and submit its report early this week, the civic body had said.

Members of the inquiry committee, however, said Monday they were yet to receive official orders to initiate an investigation.

Dr Pradeep Angre, the dean of Mulund jumbo facility and member of the inquiry committee, said he is yet to receive an official order to initiate a probe. “I was on medical leave until two days ago. I heard that my name is in the committee but got no official intimation,” he told The Indian Express Monday.

Angre added they will require several days to study the medical documents of the deceased patients, inquire from the hospital on how the patients were transferred, and whether any medical negligence was involved. “Until then, we cannot arrive at any conclusion,” he said.

Kishor Gandhi, Assistant Commissioner in T ward, who is also a member of the probe panel, affirmed that a probe into the mishap was yet to begin. “We have not visited the hospital to inspect its equipment as we do not have a formal order to begin the inquiry,” he said.

Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said the officials were informed about the inquiry “through a text message”. “We will issue formal letters to them,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Apex Hospital officials said they were cooperating with the civic body. The fire in the generator, located at the hospital’s compound, had not damaged any of the hospital wards, they added.

Madhura Patkar, from Apex Hospital’s administration, said 16 patients, so far, were re-admitted at the hospital after they agreed to return from the other hospitals they were shifted to when the generator set caught fire. “All patients are stable. Only one patient, Madhumati Gawde, is critical but she is also recovering slowly. She is on ventilator support,” Patkar said.

Gawde’s son-in-law, Amit Aparaj said after an initial debate over who would pay the bill at Fortis hospital for two days of treatment, Apex Hospital had agreed to pay for treatment costs incurred by the patients after they were transferred to other hospitals.

On October 12, Patkar added, all critical patients had been transferred in cardiac ambulances to ensure oxygen supply was not cut. BJP leader Kirit Somaiya, however, alleged oxygen supply was cut for at least five hours.

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