Even though PMC has set aside Rs 1 crore for maintenance of elevators this year, only two of the eight lifts at the crammed Kamala Nehru hospital work, but barely. Patients on stretchers and women seeking admission for delivery sometimes wait for 20 minutes for a ride, or must climb up the steps
If patients at the civic-run Kamala Nehru Hospital in Mangalwar Peth, and the relatives who visit or accompany them, are expecting any cure at the hospital, it’s only if they cross the initial hurdle of how to get to the upper storeys.
Out of order: Six of the eight lifts at the six-plus-ground-storey civic hospital have not been working for the past many months. Pic/Mohan Patil
Of the eight elevators at the six-plus-ground-storey facility, only two are currently in working condition, but barely, since they end up doing the work of eight; always crammed full, they are weighed down to a tardy pace.
While the PMC in this year’s budget earmarked Rs 1 crore for the maintenance of elevators in its buildings, the funds are yet to be put to any good use, even though the situation here is extreme.
One would have expected the authorities to show some agility in fixing the problem, especially since not so long ago five patients riding an elevator found themselves plummeting to the ground after it snapped (see box), and sustained many injuries.
But, just like the two operational lifts, the authorities like to take things slow, and they haven’t since bothered to carry out repairs.
Wait your turn: The two functional elevators are also used to ferry patients to operation theatres upstairs, while the less urgent cases must wait outside. Pics/Mohan Patil
Meanwhile, when the patients and the staff must go to the upper storeys, they don’t step inside either of the functional lifts without a prayer. But they have plenty of time to say that, since the queue of people waiting to ride them are long.
The PMC’s health department has transferred all responsibility of ensuring the safety of elevators to the corporation’s technical branch, which is conducting a safety audit of the elevators, not only at Kamala Nehru Hospital but at all other buildings of civic administration.
Acting chief of the civic health department, S T Pardeshi, said, “The issue of elevators comes under the purview of the technical department. It is their responsibility.”
Asked about the patients who were suffering due to the glitches, he replied, “The hospital superintendent has already intimated the concerned department of the PMC.”
When contacted, deputy municipal commissioner (technical) Vijay Dahibhate said, “We are conducting a safety audit of all elevators. At Kamala Nehru Hospital out of four elevators two are working currently. The other two will also start soon.”
When this correspondent informed him that he counted a total of eight elevators at the hospital, Dahibhate replied, “Two elevators are permanently shut. Of the other six, I will try to start two soon.”
Lives at risk?
One of the top officials at the hospital admitted that there is no system in place for the maintenance of lifts, which are seen as death traps by those who have no option but to use them, since “they might crash any time”. “The lives of all those who enter the elevators are at risk. No one can guess when the lift will get stuck or lead to an accident, thanks to the poor maintenance,” he said to mid-day on the condition of anonymity.
“Moreover, we don’t have the backgrounds of the six liftmen assigned duty at the two elevators in shifts. The contractor appointed by the PMC has not even given them uniforms. No one can ensure the safety of patients, especially in the night hours,” he added.
Total lifts at Kamala Nehru Hospital
In the accident took place on January 2, 2014 five people were injured after lift number 3 in Kamala Nehru Hospital’s new building came crashing down from the fourth floor.
‘This is the time for action, not audits’
Deepak Kulkarni, general secretary of Bharatiya Majdur Sangh, who recently visited the hospital, slammed the authorities, saying. “Lives of patients are at risk due to the malfunctioning lifts in the hospital and the PMC officials are talking of safety audits. Clearly, it’s time to take action and figure out precautionary measures. After one of the elevators caused an accident, the civic authority decided to shut it down totally rather than ensuring that it functions smoothly.”
Patients need lots of patience here
Mangal Gaikwad (in pic with his wife), who underwent a minor surgery and was to be discharged yesterday, said, “The operation theatre is on the third floor. At the time I was admitted last week, we had to wait 20 minutes to get into the elevator, even though I was on a stretcher. The lift moved very slowly, perhaps because of overcrowding. The hospital should repair the elevators and start the other ones.”
Ganesh Waghmare (32), a rickshaw driver, came all the way from Dhayri to admit his pregnant wife on Sunday evening. The maternity ward is on the fourth floor but he can’t take the elevator. “I get scared to enter in the elevator as it is too slow and many times it gets stuck in between floors.
So after accompanying my wife to the fourth floor to get her admitted, now I prefer to use the stairs, though it
means climbing four floors every time,” Waghmare said.
Hurtling to ground
Jan 2 2014
Five people were injured after lift number 3 at the hospital’s new building came crashing down from the fourth floor; it hasn’t been repaired since