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Dr Chandanwale’s exit was on the cards as COVID-19 deaths rose at Sassoon Hospital

Among those who complained to the state government about Sassoon Hospital's functioning was city Congress leader Arvind Shinde. "The hospital had sent one body to the crematorium and then again brought it back after realising that the deceased was a COVID-19 patient

Written by MANOJ MORE | Pune |
April 17, 2020 11:57:11 pm
coronavirus, coronavirus in pune, Sassoon General Hospital dean, B J Medical College dean, sasson general hospital, bj medical colllege, indian express news Dr Ajay Chandanwale, however, said, “The patients had come to us only when their condition had turned critical. (File)

THE ouster of Dr Ajay Chandanwale as the dean of Sassoon General Hospital and B J Medical College had been in the pipeline for some time as the state government was concerned over the rising number of deaths in the hospital and the inability of his team to contain them.

Of the 50 COVID-19 deaths in Pune, 41 have taken place at Sassoon Hospital.

Among those who complained to the state government about Sassoon Hospital’s functioning was city Congress leader Arvind Shinde. “The hospital had sent one body to the crematorium and then again brought it back after realising that the deceased was a COVID-19 patient. Another body of a COVID-19 patient was handed over to relatives in a plastic sheet,” Shinde stated in his complaint to Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar.

Shinde claimed that family members of patients had complained to him that they were asked to fetch medicines from outside when no medical shop was open. “They said they were not getting updates about the health of the patient… and then they were suddenly told that the patient’s condition had turned serious,” he said. Shinde claimed that he has video-recording of the way Sasson Hospital functioned and would be handing it over to the state government.

Shinde said he had pointed out to the government that while the civic-run Naidu Hospital had registered only one death, Sassoon Hospital was reporting four to five deaths every day, which were causing panic among local residents. “They are scared to go to Sassoon Hospital due to its track record..,” he said.

Dr Chandanwale, however, said, “The patients had come to us only when their condition had turned critical. And it was a fact that the condition of co-morbid patients was quickly turning serious. To handle such cases, we had been in discussions with top experts.”

According to NCP leaders, Ajit Pawar, who is also the district guardian minister, wanted to bring in Dr Tatyarao Lahane, former dean of JJ Hospital, to work with Dr Chandanwale. “But they do not see eye to eye. So, the decision was taken to remove the incumbent dean,” said NCP leader Yogesh Behl.

A day after Dr Chandanwale was transferred, Pawar told The Indian Express he has asked Dr Lahane and Dr Subash Salunkhe, former director general of medical services, to help and guide the Sassoon Hospital team. “I have also asked the district collector and the divisional commissioner to look for a suitable replacement for Dr Chandanwale,” he said.

Pawar said with more experts being roped in, the government was confident the number of deaths at Sassoon Hospital will be reduced.

When contacted, Dr Lahane said he was hopeful that death rates at Sassoon Hospital will go down.

However, doctors who have worked closely with Dr Chandanwale argued that there could be no replacement for someone as experienced as him. “In the current circumstances, there is no one who can replace Dr Chandanwale. He is the only one in government service today who has the necessary administrative skill, vast experience and an ability to handle any sort of patient. Transferring him at this time will only demoralise the medical team at the hospital,” said a doctor who worked closely with Dr Chandanwale.

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