Mumbai's Aarey Hospital needs more than just repairs
The hospital has 24 beds but only seven can be occupied; residents allege that the only two doctors on call are often unavailable, and that the facility lacks technicians and even a pharmacist
While the Aarey Dairy webpage boasts of a hospital with 24 beds to provide medical services to residents of Aarey colony and the adivasi padas surrounding it, MiD DAY’s visit to the establishment revealed utter lack of sufficient medical facilities, with only two doctors catering to a population of approximately 25,000 residents.
While Aarey CEO Ashok Jadhav claimed that there are two doctors working in shifts, residents have alleged that the dairy’s development board and the state’s public health department are neglecting the need for better medical facilities suited to the demography of the area.
Inadequate staff is not the only concern. The hospital building is always under threat of leopard attacks, as the big cats frequently lurk on the road adjacent to the hospital. The so-called hospital lacks technical and pathology staffers, as well as a pharmacist.
Adding to their problems is the lack of an ambulance, a basic necessity to transport patients to nearby medical facilities, which are located at a minimum distance of 8-10 kilometers.
Aarey Colony wears a deserted look after 8.30 pm, thanks to lack of adequate public transport. This makes matters worse during medical emergencies, as the hospital is only equipped to treat patients on Out Patient Department (OPD) basis.
The hospital building stands in a pitiable condition, owing to ongoing repair work. Most of the rooms in the hospital are in a dilapidated state. Though the hospital claims to be a 24-bed facility, there are provisions for only seven beds at present. A measly staff of two doctors, five nurses and a few ward boys are struggling to run the show.
Sandesh Wadkar, a resident from Maroshi Pada, said, “Reaching the hospital from our pada takes us a minimum of 45 minutes by foot. It is the nearest medical facility for us in case of any problem. With lack of transport in the evening hours, we are forced to walk on the dark roads, risking our safety and making us vulnerable to the leopards who often roam the area.”
He added, “After going through all the trouble, when we do reach the hospital, we are told that the doctor is not available. There is only one doctor on duty at a time, and even their services aren’t always available.”
Nitin from Khambyacha Pada said, “Doctors are available during the daytime, when we can manage to hire transport towards the city. But in the evening hours when we need their services they are often unreachable. Victims of snake bites are turned away owing to the absence of doctors to administer anti-venom.”
Another local alleged on condition of anonymity: “The roads inside the colony are in bad shape and pose a threat to motorists who drive after sunset. Lack of sufficient streetlights on the stretch causes several motorists to suffer injuries in accidents. It is in such emergencies that we struggle to ensure that the victim reaches the nearby hospital within the golden hour, because the hospital within the colony cannot provide anything apart from first-aid to the victim.”
Shiv Sena corporator Jitendra Valvi said, “Our MLA Ravindra Waikar and even Mayor Sunil Prabhu have written several letters to the concerned department informing them about the sorry state of the Aarey Hospital but nothing has been done till date. The biggest drawback of the hospital is that there are no doctors present at night, because of which the people going to the hospital from the Adivasi padas don’t get medicine on time. As there are no proper medicines available in the hospital, BMC holds an OPD camp every Thursday.”
The Other side
Dr S H Kedare, one of the two doctors working at the hospital, said, “Doctors are available round the clock at the hospital. We are currently treating the patients only on OPD basis as we are not equipped to provide other medical treatment. Our hospital does not have the provision of an ambulance. We receive around 100 patients on a daily basis.”
Another staffer from the hospital said, “It is true that the hospital needs an urgent upgrade in terms of staffers, medical equipment and other facilities but it will take some more time. The pharmacist was transferred in May last year, and the one who was supposed to replace him is yet to join us. So at present our nurses provide medicines to the patients according to the prescription. If the current facility is upgraded, both staffers and the residents will benefit.
Negotiations are on to hand over the facility to the BMC.”
CEO in denial
Speaking to MiD DAY and responding to the allegations, Ashok Jadhav said, “The hospital is equipped to handle all emergencies and we have doctors who work in shifts round the clock. We also have necessary medicines at our disposal.”