While the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is conducting various cleanliness drives in the city and spreading awareness of various diseases like tuberculosis (TB), dengue and malaria which are spread by lack of hygiene, the hospitals that are operating under the BMC itself seem to have fallen in the civic agency’s blind spot.
MiD DAY reporters visited the civic-run Sion and KEM hospitals and were shocked by the sordidness and filth in each institution. The corridors were littered due to the absence of garbage bins on certain floors, and the bins that do exist on certain floors were overflowing with filth, not having been cleared for days. Boards asking people not to litter or spit are ignored.
Flies hovering over garbage bins are another familiar sight. Although ‘No spitting’ boards have been put up all over the hospitals, the walls are painted with paan stains. The nightmare doesn’t end there — one can see people gargling and spitting within the hospital premises, ignoring the signboards.
The corridors at KEM hospital were lined with relatives of patients eating their lunch, the walls behind them marked with ugly red stains of paan.
BMC officials have often undertaken awareness campaigns, using the media to promote them. In the recent past, they have tried to spread awareness about mosquito breeding grounds in the city. However, their own hospitals don’t seem to be a part of these drives.
Spitting in hospitals can lead to air-borne diseases like tuberculosis, whereas accumulated garbage and open drains could lead to the breeding of mosquitoes.
A relative of a patient in Sion hospital said, “There is garbage right next to the ward. We have to bear the smell and wait here, as we have no other place to go. We are not from the city and hence have no other option. We avoid littering but lack of garbage bins to dump the waste forces us to throw our share of garbage to the already accumulated pile.”
Another family, which was seen having lunch in the corridor of KEM hospital said, “We know that it is unhygienic to eat in the hospital corridor as people here spit on the wall and throw garbage around. But we cannot move away from the ward to have our meals. Our relative who is admitted inside requires at least one of us to remain near the entrance of the ward throughout the day. So we are forced to have our meals here, risking infection.”
A ward boy said, “We try to stop these people from eating in the corridors and spitting around but it is not possible to stop everyone throughout the day. Though there are sufficient sweepers in the hospital, they generally do not clear the garbage on time. And even if the garbage gets cleaned, it accumulates in a few hours and the situation comes back to square one.”
G R Vora, member of Citizen’s Federation (F North ward) said, “Hospitals are the first place that should be hygienic. People with low immunity are in the hospitals and such unhygienic condition in the hospitals is dangerous to the health of the patients. Authorities should appoint people to keep a check on littering and spitting in hospitals. BMC has ample power to keep the environment clean. It’s time they use their power.”
Dr Avinash Supe, dean, Sion Hospital said, “We are trying our best to maintain cleanliness in the hospital. But currently we are facing a shortage of labourers. We are trying to hire contract labourers so that the hospital waste can be efficiently managed. The new labourers would be hired in a week’s time and the hospital cleanliness would be restored.” Dr A Salvi, deputy dean, KEM Hospital, said, “There are thousands of patients arriving at our facility on a daily basis and still our staff ensures that the premises remain clean. We take timely rounds to make sure that all garbage bins are cleared and there is no sign of garbage lying around in the patients’ wards.”
Dr Suhasini Nagda, director of medical education and major hospitals, said, “We are planning a huge drive for cleanliness-related issues at the BMC-run hospitals. In the previous week we held several meetings with the hospital staff like matrons and ward boys and have discussed the issue. We are going to form special squads to clear garbage and maintain cleanliness regularly. We plan to conduct this drive aggressively.”