Minal Shanbaug (34) had visited Nair hospital last week complaining of fever and body ache she was given tablets for two days and was asked to return after two days.
“They told me that they didn’t have vacant beds to admit anybody so they told me to come after two days,” said Shanbaug, who after was she turned away visited a private doctor.
Shanbaug’s case is an exception. She may have been turned away because her symptoms were mild. Many others are forced to share a cot with a stranger or sleep on a mat on the floor of wards these days.
The influx of patients suffering from monsoon-related ailments has led to overcrowding of civic hospitals, which are already struggling to cater to Mumbai’s burgeoning population.
There is only one public hospital bed for every 3000 Mumbaiites. The ideal ratio is one bed per 550 population, according to the World Health Organisation norms.
While there is a surge in patients every monsoon, the situation seems worse this year. A senior doctor at KEM pointed out that this could be because a significant proportion of malaria patients need to be hospitalised now.
“Three years ago, we used to admit only cases of falciparum malaria. But now we admit patients with vivax strain of malaria also because it has become more virulent and can be fatal,” he said.
At least 475 people were admitted to various city hospitals with monsoon-related ailments in the 24-hour period ending on Wednesday morning. The general wards at all major hospitals – KEM, Nair and Sion – are teeming with patients.
There were 93 patients in the 46-bed female medicine ward at KEM on Wednesday afternoon.
Mats had been spread on the floor and small cots were pushed between beds to accommodate the excess patients.
In all, there are 1585 patients were admitted to the 1800-bed hospital.
When asked about the situation, Dr GT Ambe, BMC’s executive health officer, said: “Our hospitals serve 1/6th of the whole population of Maharashtra. Overcrowding is bound to happen when rain-related illnesses are on the rise.”
Dr Ravi Rananvare, dean of Nair Hospital said that despite the rise in cases, the
hospital does not turn away any patient.
“We admit all patients suspected of having malaria,” he said.
Both KEM and BYL Nair Hospital in Mumbai Central have set aside wards for monsoon-related illnesses.
“We have a 60-bed ward for monsoon ailments. On some days, 50 of the beds are be occupied and on others we have to fit in more than 80 patients,” said Dr Rananvare.