Early summer last year, the local cops found an old man lying on the footpaths of Tilak Nagar. He seemed to be disturbed and barely aware. The policemen took him to the civic-run Rajawadi Hospital in Ghatkopar (E). He was treated and, after his health was restored, discharged from the hospital, but only officially.
Since none of his family members turned up to take him home, 70-year-old Prakash Bhandare stayed on in the hospital. And the hospital staff has no complaints with the additional responsibility. In fact, they virtually volunteer to tend to the ageing citizen, marooned by fate and family.
Bhandare is the oldest of the six patients who have been similarly ‘adopted’ by Rajawadi Hospital, and who now reside here since they have nowhere else to go.
He is in the pink of health now, but is still taken care of by the staff. Since April 6, 2012 he is registered as ‘unknown’ in the hospital’s records – he was, after all, picked up from the roadside.
“Bhandare was lying at the footpath suffering from fits when he was admitted to the hospital,” said a hospital authority. “He was unwell for the 12 days that followed his admittance here, and was officially discharged another three days later, after he was perfectly fine.”
New (nursing) home
However, none of Bhandare’s family members came to take the old man home, nor did he try to find out why. He has made the facility his home - for close to one-and-half years now, and lies in the same bed he was first allotted. The hospital serves him completely - right from bathing till serving him food.
Bhandare says he worked as a tailor and has a family in Mumbai. “But they don’t seem to be interested in keeping me with them anymore as I am usually unwell. This hospital is my home now,” said Bhandare.
Prakash Vani, local social worker, said, “I have been seeing the patient from the day he was admitted to the hospital. He seems to be disturbed by his family life and doesn’t properly respond to questions about it, so we haven’t been able to locate his relatives. The hospital ward boys and the nursing staff should be appreciated for their dedication towards serving him.”
“We have been serving Bhandare for 16 months and will continue doing that till we are assured that he will be taken care of by some organization, since his relatives aren’t ready to take him home. Though it’s our work to serve the patients, we treat them as family,” said a nurse requesting anonymity.