Delhi’s mohalla clinics came to Mumbai early in October. Giving them a month to settle down, we visit to see how they are doing
The HBT mohalla clinics are not only free but also completely paperless. Pics/Ashish Raje
On the footpath outside ONGC building, facing the main road sits Hinduhridaysamrat Balasaheb Thackeray (HBT) clinic in Kalla Killa, Dharavi. At around 10.30 am, we reached the portable cabins or shipping containers that make up the clinic. Wrapped in wire mesh-grill, three containers comprise all HBT clinics.
Patients register in the first one, where the staff clicks a photograph of them for their files, and checks their vitals; the other is for consultation and the last one functions as the pharmacy. Besides being free of cost, these clinics are completely paperless. Each clinic uploads their day’s data on Google sheets every day.
Inside, the clinic is roomy and airy with adequate place to sit. “Unlike the other clinics that are open only from 3 pm to 10 pm, we are also open from 7 am to 2 pm,” Dr Rashmi Yadav, Dharavi’s Medical Officer (MO), tells us. A short circuit the evening before, which caused a minor fire, had kept the clinic shut on Thursday night. On Friday, the day of our visit, they were investigating the cause of the short circuit. As she gives us the tour, Dr Yadav tells us that the clinic treats not only local residents but also labourers and workers who come to work in Dharavi’s shanty industries.
Dr Aasim Tamboli consulting patients at the mohalla clinic in Kurla West
These clinics are Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s initiative, inspired by the mohalla clinics of the capital. Fifty one of these are spread across the city in portable cabins, and in premises housing government dispensaries; they are converted into mohalla clinics from 3 pm to 10 pm. The highlight is their location, near slum pockets, and that they are completely free of charge. Each clinic has a team of four: One MO, a pharmacist, a nurse and an admin for registrations.
After Dharavi, our next stop is Takiya Ward in Kurla west. “Patient flow is strong here as the slum pocket is huge,” Dr Aasim Tamboli, the MO, tells us. It’s evident from the number of patients lining outside the clinic. “Evenings are the busiest,” Dr Tamboli tells us, “The working class people come in after work. These are patients who can’t go to government hospitals such as KB Bhabha Hospital that’s close by.
Dr Tamboli estimates their average footfall per day to be around 100 patients, and mostly comprise basic treatments for cold, flu, fever, diabetes, and hypertension. If there’s an medical emergency, he refers the patient to a government hospital.
It’s 28-year-old Sakina Khan’s first visit to the Kurla clinic; her neighbours told her about it. Usually, she goes to KB Bhabha hospital, but she says this is more convenient as she didn’t have to wait for long and it’s free. The other patients also said they had heard good things about the clinic from their neighbours. The Kurla clinic is also spacious, well equipped with fans, proper seating and a wash-basin. As we chatted with the MO, we noticed a confused patient head to the pharmacy container first; luckily, a nurse guided him to the correct container. A person stationed outside the clinic, to guide people to the registration table, would make the process smoother.
Chembur’s HBT clinic also had a watchman, which the MO Dr Arati Madavi says is mandatory. This one is exclusively for women. When we stop by, at around 5 pm, it’s empty. Dr Madavi said that people tend to come in later at night, and they see 30 to 40 patiently daily on an average. When we’d asked around before, Chemburkars seemed aware of the clinic and its location. The team had an outreach programme to spread awareness. “Word-of-mouth has also helped,” says Dr Madavi, adding that they also get patients from neighbouring Tilak Nagar.