The state-run Aarey Hospital has no doctors to treat the nearly 40,000 people in the area for whom it is the closest stop for medical treatment. The hospital was built to cater to the medical needs of the residents of the many adivasi padas nearby. According to government rules, the hospital should be equipped with a doctor and other medical treatment facilities at all times, as victims of leopard attacks, snake bites, road accidents often seek treatment here.
A team of MiD DAY reporters went to the hospital to check if a doctor was present in the premises round the clock. We had learnt from a reader that doctors left the hospital after 3 pm and returned only the next morning. We reached Aarey Colony around 10.30 pm to walk to the hospital.
It was 11 pm and the gates were shut when we reached. A few workers reopened the gates and escorted us in, asking us what the problem was. We told them that we were on our way to Kandivli from Powai when one of us had started experiencing chest pain and shortness of breath. We said that people on our way had directed us to the hospital.
An old man dressed in khaki was helpful and asked us to sit on one of the benches. He informed us that there was no doctor on call, but a sister was in and immediately alerted her. The nurse was less helpful. Emerging from the room, where she had probably been sleeping, she glared at us angrily. We asked her if a doctor could visit us, to which she said there was no doctor on call.
She referred us to Siddharth Hospital in Goregaon, nearly 10 kilometres away. We asked her if she could do anything as the pain was rising – but she plainly refused. We requested her to check the ‘patient’s’ blood pressure, and she complied. When asked why no doctor was present at the facility, the elderly attendant attributed it to the ongoing renovation at the hospital. He escorted us out, just in case we were afraid of the leopards.
Speaking to MiD DAY, local corporator Jitendra Valvi said, “We have been raising the issue of non-availability of doctors at the Aarey Milk Colony Hospital from a long time, but till date, nothing has changed.
There are various adivasi padas in the area and for cases of leopard attacks, snake bites and road accidents, people approach the hospital, only to learn that there are no doctors around. The worst part is that patients don’t even get primary treatment here, and have to rush off to the BMC-run Siddharth Hospital. The delay in treatment caused by the travel may cause the patients’ condition to worsen.”
The corporator also alleged that doctors were only available in the hospital round the clock, whenever there was a roundup of ministers or senior officials in the area. Speaking to MiD DAY, Aarey CEO Ashok Jadhav said, “It is true that doctors should be present at the Aarey Hospital to attend to patients who come there, and to the best of my knowledge, they are. But if at all no doctor was present there, I will make sure that it does not happen again. Tomorrow, I will write a letter asking for an explanation why they were not present.”
“We have written to the government about the facilities we need, asking that they be made available for the people of Aarey Colony. Though it is recognised as a hospital, it runs on the level of a dispensary. As of now, there is no use being in the dispensary all the time, as we have lack facilities to treat injuries caused due to snake bite or leopard attacks. So, we have no option than to refer the patient to a bigger hospital nearby,” said Dr Sheela Kedari, a physician of the hospital.
On October 1, Hiya Mhase (4), was killed in a leopard attack. Soon after the incident, a local from the area went to Aarey Hospital to see if there was a doctor on call there wasn’t. The family later confirmed that they had to take the child to Siddharth Hospital, as no doctor was available at Aarey. Her grandmother had later mentioned that the presence of a doctor at the hospital would have helped.