Did Pune hospital have licence to treat mentally unstable patients?

A day after a hospital ward boy was arrested for sexually assaulting an under treatment disabled girl, it has been revealed that the hospital was treating mentally challenged personsat the facility under the guise of a de-addiction and old age centre.

After being approached by the 22-year-old victim’s family member, Yamunanagar Shiv Sena corporator Sulabha Ubale during a visit to the hospital on Saturday found that the doctor couple, running Suyash Hospital in Walhekarwadi, Chinchwad were violating rules by functioning without an appropriate licence to treat differently-abled persons. 

Collared: Dr Vishal Sonawane (left) and ward boy Subhash Modad (second from right) were arrested by police on Saturday. Pic/NavnathKaple

Sena corporator Ubale also said that during her visit, she found that the victim was undergoing treatment at a ward that had eight other male patients who were also undergoing psychological treatment at the hospital.

The 22-year-old mentally challenged woman was allegedly raped by ward boy Subhash Balasaheb Modad at the hospital on April 16, where she was being treated for the past six months. Police arrested him on Saturday, while the doctor
couple were also held for trying to cover up the crime. Following the revelations, the victim on Saturday was shifted to another hospital in the city.

According to Ubale, accused Modad’s maternal uncle approached her on Friday, seeking her help after Dr Vishal Sonawane, the doctor who runs the hospital, allegedly demanded Rs 5 lakh from him to bury the matter. “When I visited the hospital, I was shocked to see that the victim was kept in the same ward where eight other mentally challenged male patients were admitted for treatment,” said Ubale.

The corporator added that when she asked the hospital authorities whether the victim was sleeping in the same ward during her six months stay in the hospital, the doctors gave her vague responses.“Why the hospital admitted the victim for treatment when it didn’t have the basic amenities for mentally challenged female patients,” questioned Ubale.

Dr Shamrao Gaikwad, health officer at Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, said that it’s a matter of serious concern if mentally challenged patients were being treated under the guise of a de-addiction centre. “We will first check whether the hospital is registered and then suitable action would be taken against the concerned hospital authorities,” said Dr. Gaikwad.

Flouting the rules
According to Dr Vilas Bhailume, medical superintendent at Regional Mental Hospital, Yerawada, it is a wrong practice to treat mentally challenged male and female patients at the same ward. Besides, there should be a presence of security guards and female staff, including nurses and social workers, at the ward. He also said the most critical prerequisite is the state government’s special licence to run a Psychiatrist department at a hospital.

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