In 2011, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had instructed civic hospitals to ensure that relatives of patients would be allowed into the wards only during visiting hours from 4.30 pm to 6.30 pm. A pass system was also implemented. However, these instructions were not seriously followed. A new drive was to be initiated from today for the same. However, according to Additional Municipal Commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar, the drive will now begin from May 5, in which a single relative will be allowed to stay with the patient. Others will only be allowed in during visiting hours.
BMC hospitals are usually overcrowded with patients and their relatives from across the city. Tertiary hospitals face over 1,500 patients a day in their OPDs, apart from other admissions. The throng of relatives create commotion within the wards and also add to the risk of patients contracting infections. Several relatives of out-station patients camp right outside the wards, with their luggage. They eat their meals and subsequently litter within the hospital premises. Sources also confirmed that several cases of theft have also been reported lately. As a result, the impending drive to restrict visitors in the wards is being welcomed by the hospital staff.
Going by rules
Relatives of patients will not be allowed to enter wards before or after visiting hours. Hospitals will also issue passes to relatives and the entry would be restricted to one relative per patient. Every patient admitted to a normal ward will be permitted one relative for assistance and patients admitted to the ICU would be allowed two relatives. The validity of these passes issued would depend on the duration of the patient’s stay at the hospital.
“Overcrowding is a regular feature in our hospital,” a member of the nursing staff at KEM hospital said. “We see thousands of patients at our facility and not less than three to five relatives accompany them. This adds to our problems because we have to spend most of our time trying to keep the relatives outside the ward.” Another staffer from Sion hospital said, “Though we have fixed visiting hours for relatives, many a times several swarm into wards throughout the day. They crowd around the patient’s bed causing inconvenience to other patients in the ward. We are forced to request them to not disturb the patients.”
Dr Avinash Supe, Dean, Sion hospital, said, “We recently had a meeting where this issue was discussed in detail. I am glad as this decision will reduce the workload on our staff and ensure fewer disturbances for patients. When more relatives crowd in the wards, the risk of patients contracting infection rises.”
Dr Minoo Sanjana, Dean, Nair hospital said, “We will start the pass system by the end of this week because we are still seeking clarifications in this matter. We will definitely hire more security personnel to ensure smooth functioning of this new system. Though the pass system has already existed for two years, we will implement it aggressively this time.” Dr Priti Mehta, acting Dean, KEM hospital, said, “The drive is yet to be implemented and hence I cannot comment on this issue.”
Manisha Mhaiskar said, “It is an old decision but we are reinforcing it this year. It is for the benefit of both patients and relatives. Though it was to be started from May 1, many deans have requested more time for implementation. So now the drive would begin from May 5.”