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Unclaimed bodies run out of space

The Sassoon General Hospital mortuary,probably the sole address for unclaimed bodies in Pune,has been running way below capacity for weeks.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
February 14, 2009 11:59:34 pm

Sole Morgue : Needed 8 cabinets,got 6,can use 2

The Sassoon General Hospital mortuary,probably the sole address for unclaimed bodies in Pune,has been running way below capacity for weeks. Four cold storage cabinets,installed as recently as a few months ago,have become defunct. As a result,instead of the 42 bodies that it could once accommodate,the morgue can now keep only eight at a time.

Of the eight cabinets requisitioned by the morgue,the Public Works Department (PWD),entrusted with the assignment,could install only six; of these,only two are functional. With four out of service,the morgue temperature is being kept at only 8-11°C instead of the 4-6°C necessary.

On an average,15 bodies are taken up for post-mortem; of these at least four remain unclaimed. The morgue also gets unclaimed bodies from primary health centres. After the post-mortem is performed the unclaimed body is kept for three days and then given to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) for disposal.

Sassoon Hospital earlier had an arrangement with YCM Hospital at Chinchwad to take on unclaimed bodies,but the latter has now refused to them citing shortage of space.

Dr Nirmala Borade,Dean of B J Medical College and Sassoon General Hospital said the college administration was not involved in the purchase of the cabinets. She said the hospital management had time and again complained to the electrical department of the PWD about the defect.

B M Yantapure,section engineer of the electrical department,said he had got a complaint and had called representatives of Blue Star,to which the contract was awarded,to check the cabinets.

It was in March 2008 that the hospital had sanctioned repairs to the mortuary that houses the postmortem room and the cold storage unit. The electrical department of the PWD was involved in purchasing and fitting the cabinets as per the requirement list submitted by the hospital.

Senior officials at the department of forensic medicine at B J Medical College and Sassoon Hospital said they are unable to take bodies from outside Pune. Explaining the corporation’s role in the disposal of unclaimed bodies,Dr Vaishali Jadhav,assistant health officer,said the police handed over bodies to the morgue,where they were kept for three days and then sent to the PMC,which sent them to Yeravada or Kailas electric crematorium.

Rajendra Sonawane,Joint Commissioner of Police (law and order),said he had not received any complaints from police stations on any space problems at Sassoon morgue.

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