When swine flu struck Mumbai, Kasturba Hospital for Infectious Diseases was the obvious choice for setting up an isolation facility.
But it also came to light that the Chinchpokli hospital, which has no full-time specialists or an intensive care unit, is ill equipped to tackle outbreaks
With experts predicting an upsurge in swine flu cases during winter, the civic body is scurrying to improve the situation at the city’s only infectious diseases hospital.
It has drawn up a plan to get more specialists to work at the hospital.
Till now, the hospital has been managing with less than ten honorary senior doctors.
The first step will be to attach the hospital to one of the three civic medical colleges in the city — Nair, KEM or Sion — so that it can avail of the service of specialist and super specialist doctors from there. “Once Kasturba Hospital is officially attached to a medical college, the specialists and super-specialists employed there can dedicate few days every week,” said BMC’s Executive Health Officer Dr Jairaj Thanekar.
BMC is also trying to make working at Kasturba more viable for doctors. Since the hospital is not attached to a medical college, there are no resident doctors.
Currently, there are six-month-long postings for junior doctors (house posts) to gain experience. But a source said five of the ten posts in the medicine department were vacant.
“When swine flu cases started pouring in, we were working 24 hours a day. Then the BMC started deputing some doctors from health posts for eight-day periods to help out,” said a resident doctor.
Dr Thanekar said that doctors were not keen to work in Kasturba as the house posts were not recognised by the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences.
“We are hoping to get the posts recognised soon,” he said.
He added that a full-time post for a Professor of Microbiology has been created to head the special swine flu testing laboratory which is being set up in the hospital’s campus.
A proposal has also been passed to set up a 10-bed intensive care unit with ventilators, monitors and a sonography machine.
Since the hospital does not have a fully equipped ICU, critical patients are transferred to Nair Hospital.