A three-page leaked internal note sent to senior bureaucrats in BMC has exposed malpractices in the management of hospital beds at the Mulund jumbo Covid care facility.
The note, written by the facility’s dean in October, was released by the BJP on Wednesday. Accusing the Shiv Sena-controlled BMC of “shielding” those responsible for the mismanagement, BJP has now threatened to move Bombay High Court if action was not initiated in this regard.
Accusing the private trust — Aasha Cancer Trust and Research Centre — contracted to manage 600 beds at Richardson and Cruddas jumbo care centre at Mulund of committing serious violations at the cost of patients’ well-being, facility Dean Pradeep Angre, in the note written on October 17, had recommended non-renewal of the firm’s services after the expiry of its contract on October 26.
But BJP MLA Mihir Kotecha, who released the note on Wednesday, said that “no action” has been initiated and that the firm was continuing to manage the facility.
The document shows that the ward’s assistant commissioner, Kishor Gandhi, too, had endorsed Angre’s findings, seeking discontinuation of the firm’s contract.
The leaked note shows that Gandhi had written on the file on October 22: “I fully agree with the dean’s opinion. The CIDCO and the BMC have spent crores in setting up the facility at Mulund. But owing to the negligence, inefficiency, unprofessionalism and indiscipline of the contractor, the centre was (appraised as) ‘meet expectations’ during the pandemic. This is a fact.”
Facing a manpower crunch, the BMC had earlier outsourced the management of most of the hospital beds at its jumbo care facilities to private healthcare providers. Besides Mulund, jumbo care facilities in Mumbai have come up in Dahisar, Mahalaxmi, Bandra Kurla Complex and Goregaon. While the Mulund facility has 1,670 beds, documents show that Aasha Cancer Trust and Research Centre was allotted the work of managing 600 of these beds for three months on July 26.
Angre’s note lists 16 lapses in all. It stated that the facility had not appointed nursing staff that as per EOI (expression of interest) specifications. It had also not appointed sufficient doctors, consultants and technical staffers even after facing a 30 per cent to 50 per cent shortage of employees and did not correct the same despite repeated complaints. No proper record of medicines and consumables were maintained.
Further, the facility violated discharge practices as prescribed by ICMR and was keeping asymptomatic patients admitted even after the completion of the prescribed 10-day quarantine period. The additional commissioner had even served it a notice in this regard.
A leakage of oxygen reported in October revealed that the centre was misusing its supply, giving it to patients who didn’t need it or wrongly attributing usage to patients whose beds were not fitted with cylinders.
Kotecha alleged that this was being done to inflate bills. Even Angre’s note indicated that this was done to claim more money from BMC. While the facility is run free for patients, the BMC pays Rs 1,100 to the contractor for a regular bed and Rs 1,650 for an oxygenated bed.
“It has been close to 45 days since the lapses were brought to the notice of senior civic officials. There have been 20 deaths at the facility in the meantime. But some senior officials are just moving the file from one department to another to shield the firm,” Kotecha alleged, demanding a probe on who was responsible for the inaction.
He also demanded an audit of patient deaths at the facility. “If this is not done within 48 hours, we’ll move court,” Kotecha said.
Requesting anonymity, a senior civic official said, “The firm was even given time to improve its services. But that hasn’t happened. Another file has now been moved for its termination.”
Refuting all allegations, Dr Satish Kamat, president of Aasha Cancer Trust and Research Centre, said: “These are baseless allegations. We have provided medical and nursing staff as per the EOI and treated each and every patient in the best manner possible within the limited resources available to us.”
He added, “Patients are admitted and discharged by the dean himself.”
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