A day after Sion Hospital faced the heat for postponing surgeries due to a delay in supply of fresh linen, patients raised the issue of pests in several wards of the BMC-run hospital. At least three wards were found infested with cockroaches. The hospital’s pest-control department admitted to not have conducted a check in the last three months.
Gazala Parveen Ansari, who delivered her second baby in the hospital on Monday, was transferred to Ward 15 and given the corner-most bed. “There was a cat pooping under my bed, and the drawer next to the cot had cockroaches. I knew nurses will not listen if I complain so I shifted my bed on my own,” she said.
The Sion resident has her one-day baby lying by her side, wrapped up in cotton. “He is at risk of infection here,” she complains, adding that since she underwent a caesarean delivery she will have to spend four more days in hospital.
In Ward 12, where expectant mothers are admitted, Reshma Kamble, seven months pregnant, said, “The drawer next to my bed is full of cockroaches. We don’t even touch it.” Kamble started bleeding and required hospitalisation three days ago. On the next cot, Rekha Gaud (34) was admitted a fortnight ago. The eight-month pregnant women suffers complications in pregnancy and will need long-term hospitalisation. “I have not complained to hospital staff, there is no sense. They do not respond,” Gaud said.
Nasreen Ansari (28), another patient, said, “Doctors and nurses keep all unused items in these drawers. The waste will attract insects.”
The wards are part of an old building in the hospital that is slated to undergo redevelopment. Senior doctors from the gynaecology department said that Ward 15, earlier a surgery ward, was handed over to the gynaecology department two months ago. “We don’t even have all equipment, for instance a cradle, that we need in the gynaecology ward for patients,” a doctor said.
The ward is slated to be shifted again to a new location once the building goes under redevelopment.
As per protocol, when issues such as pest come up, a staff nurse informs the matron who informs the assistant dean. In addition, a dedicated employee in the hospital monitors all wards and conducts pest control when a request from department is made. The Sion Hospital currently has only three staffers in the pest control unit, of whom one is slated to retire next month.
“We found newborn babies on the floor and cockroaches all around them. There are 15 buildings that only three staffers monitor for pest control,” said local corporator Ashram Azmi.
According to the World Health Organisation, because cockroaches feed on both human food and human faeces, they can spread germs which can lead to diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera, leprosy, poliomyelitis, typhoid fever and allergic reactions, specially in newborns who have low immunity.
“Cockroaches are in touch with water, which, if contaminated, can cause bacterial or viral infections like rota virus or all water-borne diseases. It is difficult to trace the cause to cockroach whenever patients contract such infections,” said Dr Om Srivastava, infectious diseases expert.
When contacted, Sion Hospital dean in-charge Dr Jayshree Mondkar said, “The hospital is alwa3ys over-crowded. We adjust three patients on one bed. In such a situation, it is difficult to maintain the ward.”
In Ward 15, for instance, in the about 40 cots, over 70 patients were adjusted with their newborns, some accommodated on mattresses on the floor. Mondkar added that no complaints had been received from patients of the gynaecology department for pest control.”We will be solving this issue at the earliest,” she said.
An official, who monitors the pest-control activities in Sion Hospital, said, “We are also short-staffed. The pest control is done once in two or three months depending on when a ward issues a request.”