Updated: April 13, 2021 4:36:18 pm
Almost four months after the vaccination process started in the state, mentally ill persons across three regional mental hospitals in the districts worst affected by the Covid pandemic — Pune, Nagpur and Thane — are yet to get their first doses.
Mental hospital authorities have now sought that the Aadhaar card/PAN card requirement for the vaccination of mentally ill persons be waived. “We have communicated this to the state Health department and sought guidelines on Covid vaccinations,” Dr Sanjay Bodade, medical superintendent at the Regional Mental Hospital at Thane, told The Indian Express.
The Thane hospital has 952 mentally ill inmates, of whom only 250 have Aadhaar cards. “Several inmates here are from other districts and even states. Most are unknown persons who were found by the police and hence tracking their families takes some time. Presently, there is a manpower shortage as some personnel are also infected with Covid-19,” said Dr Bodade.
While trying to get a new Aadhaar card for the mentally ill, authorities at the hospital realised that in the case of 50-60 persons, the applications were rejected. “Some of these persons, who do not have any documentation right now, have been registered earlier, and hence their application was rejected… for some others, when their UID status was sought, it shows that the centre had been shut,” said Dr Bodade.
“We have approached the regional officer of UID in Maharashtra… but we have also requested the government that in the case of mentally ill persons, this requirement of Aadhaar card or PAN card for vacciantion should be waived,” he added.
At the Thane hospital, 47 persons have been infected with Covid-19 and they have been treated.
At the regional mental hospital in Pune — the largest in the state — Covid-19 vaccinations are yet to begin among the 1,100 patients. Most of the patients with mental illness are brought by the police and several do not have their Aadhaar cards, said Medical Superintendent Dr Abhijeet Phadnis.
“We are making efforts but at least 350 persons do not have any documentation,” said Dr Phadnis.
During the first wave of Covid-19, the hospital had seven cases, and after taking several precautionary measures, they had been successful in isolating the patients and ensuring that others do not get infected. “However, till date, a total of 21 patients with mental illness have been detected with Covid,” said Dr Phadnis.
At the Regional Mental Hospital at Nagpur, Medical Superintendent Dr Purushottam Madavi said they had written a letter to the state director of health, asking for guidance on Covid vaccinations for mentally ill persons. “There are 430 inmates at the hospital and of the 216 persons in the 45 years and above age group, at least 140… do not have any documentation. In other cases, we have to write to relatives of mentally ill patients, asking for their consent. However, with Covid restrictions and outsiders from different districts and states not being able to come here, this process is getting challenging,” said Dr Madavi.
At the Nagpur hospital, as many as 80 mentally ill persons have been infected but they are recovering.
The state-run mental hospital at Ratnagiri, however, has been able to start the immunisation process with five mentally ill patients getting the dose last week. The hospital has 185 inmates and 73 of them are above 45 years.
Dr Amod Gadikar, medical superintendent, said, “In a majority of cases, we have the required documentation and last week, five mentally ill persons were given the first shot of Covid-19 vaccine.”
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