The municipal commissioner of Pimpri-Chinchwad said he will invoke special powers bestowed on him to appoint specialist doctors at the civic-run YCM hospital, a dedicated Covid facility, which is facing severe shortage of specialists to treat Covid-19 patients. The appointment of specialist doctors requires the approval of the civic general body that has failed to take a suitable decision regarding this in the last six months, officials said.
“I will invoke special powers bestowed on the municipal commissioner under the Maharashtra Municipality Act for appointment of specialist doctors. I will issue an order to this effect on Tuesday. I wanted to issue the order on Monday, but since it was not a working day, I could not do so,” Hardikar told The Indian Express. He added more than 50 specialist doctors will be appointed.
On Monday, The Indian Express had highlighted how YCM hospital, at 240, has recorded the highest number of Covid deaths among all hospitals in Pimpri-Chinchwad. Doctors from the hospital cited severe shortage of specialists as one of the key reasons. They said all critical Covid-19 patients suffered from a severe form of pneumonia, for which specialists were required.
The YCMH, however, has failed to get even one specialist from the field. The hospital administration said not all but some deaths could have been prevented if specialists were appointed.
The municipal commissioner said the selection of specialist doctors was done, but the appointment awaited approval from the civic general body. “General body meetings have been pushed back and, therefore, the appointments have remained on hold,” he said.
Seema Savale, BJP corporator, said specialists should have been appointed long back. “The number of deaths shows that YCMH needed specialist doctors. Had the doctors been appointed earlier, we could have saved lives,” she said.
Savale, however, said she doubted if the municipal commissioner could invoke his special powers as the matter was already before the civic general body.
“He should have used his special powers before the proposal was placed before the Law Committee. At this stage, I doubt whether the municipal commissioner can invoke his special powers. He will have to consult legal experts, otherwise state government might not approve his order,” she said.
The civic chief said his administration had verified provisions of the law for invoking special powers when the issue was before the general body. “Actually, in the last general body meeting, this issue was already discussed. The House had also discussed the issue of invoking special powers if the appointment of specialists was getting delayed. In a way, we have the approval. We will get the ratification of the order post facto,” he said.
Mayor Usha Dhore said, “The House had asked the municipal commissioner to take necessary steps to appoint specialists. The commissioner should not delay the appointments even by a day. The House will approve his order later.”
District Collector Naval Kishore Ram said, “All MBBS doctors are supposed to handle Covid patients. Registered medical practitioners cannot say no. It is true, however, that while initial treatment should be administered by MBBS doctors, when patient becomes critical, a specialist has to step in.”
Sanjog Waghere, chief of NCP’s Pimpri-Chinchwad unit, said, “The state government should question the civic administration and the ruling BJP as to why the appointments have been delayed. The NCP will approach Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar to probe the matter. If the ruling BJP is responsbile, then action should be taken.”
The PCMC administration, which has decided to appoint bouncers at YCM hospital to protect medical staff, has placed a proposal before the standing committee. It will come up for approval on Tuesday.
The civic administration has decided to appoint 12 bouncers. According to the proposal, each bouncer will get Rs 25,000 as salary.
The civic administration has increased security measures at the hospital after a relatives of Covid patients, who died during treatment at the hospital late last month, created ruckus in the premises. Three such incidents took place in one day at the hospital.
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