At Rs 167-cr BMC hospital, seven to eight patients die everyday

Feb 27, 2014, 08:37 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

An acute shortage of qualified medical staff and rampant mismanagement of space and services means patients have to wait for hours to see doctors, and months for scans and surgery

A hospital in Kandivli that the BMC spent Rs 167 crore on, ironically witnesses the death of about seven or eight of its patients every day.

Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Municipal General Hospital is now the largest peripheral hospital catering to residents between Nallasopara and Jogeshwari. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Municipal General Hospital is now the largest peripheral hospital catering to residents between Nallasopara and Jogeshwari. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Only inexperienced MBBS graduates run the facility, with no postgraduate doctors available to examine and treat patients, resulting in long delays and substandard treatment. mid-day’s visit to the hospital exposed the chaos rampant within its walls.

Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray inaugurated the newly constructed 324-bed hospital on September 2 last year. Its name was changed from Centenary Hospital to Bharatratna Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Municipal General Hospital.

It is now the largest peripheral hospital catering to residents between Nallasopara and Jogeshwari, after Bhagwati Hospital was shut and the indoor and OPD sections shifted here.

Mehul Katariya, an RTI activist and resident of Kandivli, said, “The hospital is in a complete mess. There are no senior MD doctors available on board.

BMC Hospital
Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Municipal General Hospital in Kandivli.

Mostly, students from Nair Medical college and MBBS doctors have to handle OPD patients, that run into a few hundreds daily. They have set up an MRI and CT scan centre, but there is no CT scan facility yet.

Appointments for MRI scans are usually given a month after date of application. For surgeries in both orthopaedic and general wards, patients are put on the waiting list. The hospital does not have a blood bank facility.

BMC Hospital
A view of the BMC Hospital in Kandivli from a distance. Pic: Pradeep Dhivar

Moreover, they do not have any cardiologist or cardiac ward, which means that in case of any heart attack, they either give only preliminary treatment or just transfer the patient to another hospital, which can prove fatal for the patient.”

A doctor attached to the hospital admitted, “We only have honorary postgraduate senior doctors, who attend the hospital once in a week. We have no full-time lecturers or professors with postgraduate qualification.

Most of the doctors are either from Bhagwati or are MBBS graduates from Nair Hospital, who are not trained to handle critical cases. None of the three branches of Medicine, Surgery and Orthopaedics have postgraduate doctors.”

“The mortality rate in the hospital is around 7 to 8 per day. One of the reasons for this is that the existing team of doctors is not able to handle critical cases and do trial and error treatment,” he added.

Another doctor added, “Most of the surgeries need to be postponed, as anaesthetists are not available after 2 pm. Also, the Operation Theatre area is so small that it gets congested easily. Life support systems are seldom used, as no technical experts are available round the clock.”

Those who suffer
mid-day spoke to some of the patients who waited for more than three hours in the OPD before they could consult doctors. A doctor at the OPD said, “We start the OPD at 8.30 am and our session goes on till 5 pm without a break. Even during lunch time, we eat biscuits and tea and continue examining the patients.”

'No expertise, can't treat'

Name: Naseer Mohammed Khan (34), Malad
Incident: Fall from train between Borivli and Kandivli on February 13
Injury: Left foot amputation and lacerated deep cut wound on right foot

I was admitted to the Orthopaedic ward on February 13. After 12 days, doctors refused to continue treatment, saying they did not have the expertise to handle such complicated cases. Twice, I was referred to Nair Hospital, but even there the doctors refused to admit me, saying that they would perform surgery only if the wound healed.

I had to pay for the ambulance Rs 1,500 per trip. Meanwhile, my wounds developed gangrene and started stinking on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I was advised to take compulsory discharge from the hospital. My brother Mohammed Haseeb, brought me to KEM Hospital in Parel.

Sonography... after one month
Name: Deepa Naik (46), Bhayander
Ailment: Pain in abdomen and back since February 25

Deepa Naik

I was referred to Dr Ambedkar hospital by a local doctor in Bhayander. After spending four hours in the OPD queue, the on-duty doctor gave me some painkillers and prescribed a sonography. I went to the sonography section and was given a date of April 2, 2014.

The note which asks Deepa to come back for her sonography on April 2

I can’t bear the pain, and so the doctor advised an urgent sonography. But even after pleading with the staff at the sonography section, I was asked to wait for over a month. They told me there aren’t sufficient radiologists and technical staff available. Earlier we would got to Bhagwati hospital in Borivli, but it has shut, so we have to come here.

Class IV staffer bandages 5-year-old
Name: Mizba Sayed (5), Ashok Nagar, Kandivli 
Accident: Fall from sofa on February 25
Injury: Dislocated shoulder bone

Mizba was playing on the sofa when she fell and injured herself. I rushed her to Dr Ambedkar Hospital, waited in queue for over three hours. Only two orthopaedic doctors were available, causing the delay. The doctor examined my daughter and advised an X-ray.

Surprisingly, the X-ray technician took a scan of the wrist first, instead of her shoulder. We had to run around after this, and when the shoulder X-ray was taken, the doctor found that the bone had dislocated, and advised a bandage. The bandage was applied by a Class IV employee of the hospital. - Amina Sayed (26), Mizba’s mother

OT attendant becomes dresser
mid-day was present at the dressing room of the orthopaedic OPD, and was shocked to see Amina’s wound being dressed by a man who needed the assistance of her uncle. The dresser identified himself as Suresh, a matriculate pass Class IV contract employee who has been attached to Bhagwati Hospital for last seven years.

He holds no formal training in first aid, but bragged about his skill, saying that seven years of work in the OT had made him perfect at these tasks. He added that his duty was in the OT section, but at Dr Ambedkar Hospital, due to staff shortage, he would provide assistance in each section, including the services of a barber.

Mismanaged space
According to RTI activist Mehul Kataria, the hospital is spread across 3.15 lakh sq feet, on a ground plus three-storey building.

Vast spaces remain unused, while wards are crammed into a single hall
Vast spaces remain unused, while wards are crammed into a single hall

Ironically, huge spaces have been left unused, while different wards for ENT, medicine, surgery, orthopaedics, and psychiatry have all been cramped into one single hall, divided into smaller sections. This not only inconveniences patients, but also raises the chances of infection spreading rom one ward to another.

What they say
“We have to follow the tendering process for appointment of staff, but if you are saying that the patients are suffering then I will have to personally look into the issue.

As far as non-availability of postgraduate doctors is concerned, it is known that such experts do not want to work in civic-run hospitals, as BMC cannot match the emoluments given by private hospitals. We cannot have direct recruitment of MD doctors as certain procedures needs to be followed.” - Geeta Gawli, health committee chairman, BMC

We must understand that the said hospital is a secondary care hospital and we have honorary doctors who give the minimum four hours and are also on call during emergency. We are in the process of hiring more consultants. We are still the process of finalising matters on the blood bank.

We are shifting the CT scan from Bhagwati to Ambedkar Hospital soon. We have two full time radiologists in this hospital and I feel that the said patient should have been examined immediately.

If she has been given a sonography appointment after a month, I will look into this matter. I will have to look into the high mortality rate in the hospital. - Seema Malik, chief medical superintendent, peripheral hospitals

The other side

Responses by Dr Mangesh Bhudkar, deputy medical superintendent of Ambedkar Hospital
“We are trying to provide the best quality medical care to the patients who come to our hospital and are in the process of making it better.”

About the gross delay for a sonography appointment
“On an average we examine nearly 80-90 cases for sonography. The doctors might have examined the patient and as it must not have been serious, the appointment might have been given accordingly.”

On non availability of postgraduate doctors
“We have honorary doctors, who visit for rounds, and bonded MBBS students from BYL Nair Hospital are available round the clock”

On high mortality rate
“We try our best to revive the patients and critical cases are also referred to Nair hospital, but in the process death is inevitable.”

No of sanctioned posts, of which only 337 have been filled

Number of CCTV cameras

No of blood banks

No of patients in orthopaedic OPD per day

No of patients in medicine OPD per day

No of cases for surgery per day

Did you know?
Of the 324 beds, 30 beds are for those who can afford private hospital charges, making it the first civic hospital to have paid-bed facilities, charged at Rs 1,500 per day without AC and Rs 2,000 with AC.

>> There is no full-time postgraduate doctor on the rolls of the hospital, with undergraduates and MBBS doctors running it
>> No CT scan facility available
>> Patients turned away by doctors, citing ‘lack of expertise’

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