Why charity clinic at Dadar station fails to draw patients

Updated: Sep 15, 2019, 07:55 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

Lilavati Hospital's medical emergency clinic has become financially unsustainable due to restricted accessibility to non-railway passengers

CR has closed the back entrance to the clinic
CR has closed the back entrance to the clinic

Eight months after it first launched, Lilavati Hospital's emergency medical clinic inside Dadar Railway Station continues to receive lukewarm response. According to hospital officials, due to stringent conditions imposed by the Central Railway (CR), the clinic is spending far more than it is earning, making it a financially unsustainable model over a period of time.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, an official said that the number of patients every month has not exceeded 500. In August, the clinic had 295 patients, while in June and July, it saw 400 and 386 patients respectively. "Currently, the clinic is only open to railway passengers, who are treated for free or at subsidised rates. It should also be accessible to people who live nearby, so that they can also avail of proper medical care. But, because of the hawkers outside the station, the clinic is not visible and people have no access either," said the official. He added that if non-passengers want to visit the clinic, they will have to get a platform ticket first.

While the administration shells out more than R5 lakh every month to maintain the clinic, the official pointed out that the monthly turnover for the past three months has been less than R25,000. "The idea behind starting the charity clinic was to give everyone access to good medical care at affordable rates. We are not looking to make money from this. But the clinic has to at least be able to sustain itself," said the official. He added that unlike other pharmacies in the city, the clinic is not even allowed to sell baby food, diapers and other products, which are things many passengers need.

Lilavati Hospital had signed an MOU with CR, and the clinic is expected to run for a period of five years. A team of four staff members, including a doctor is available at the clinic at all times. They work in three shifts throughout the day. Railway passengers who suffer injuries are given first-aid treatment and then sent to Sion Hospital. Along with consultation, basic diagnostic tests are conducted at the clinic at Central Government Health Scheme rates, while specialised tests are carried out based on the hospital's rates.

When contacted, Ajaykumar Pande, vice-president of Lilavati Hospital shared concerns about fewer patients at the clinic. "We are in talks with the railway officials and are trying to figure out a way to have another entrance for patients who are not passengers." Shivaji Sutar, CR spokesperson, said that a meeting was held on Saturday to discuss the issues. "A special drive against hawkers will be done regularly. The emergency medical room is operated as per contract conditions and the pharmacy can only sell products as per the agreement," he said, implying that other items like baby products will not be allowed.

295
No. of patients who visited clinic in August

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