Patients at Mumbai’s only tuberculosis hospital at Sewri get a fresh set of clothes only once in three or four days because the clothes disinfecting boiler at the hospital has been shut down.
Hospitals are supposed to give patients a set of washed clothes every day, and doctors say forcing tuberculosis patients to wear the same clothes over several days could worsen hygiene conditions at the hospital.
The Sewri hospital’s only disinfecting boiler attendant died in 2005 and nobody else knows how to operate the equipment. As the hospital treats infectious TB patients, the bed sheets, pillow covers, blankets and clothes used by the patients have to be disinfected in the boiler before they are sent for washing to a laundry.
After the boiler shut down, clothes and bedding are being sent to Kasturba Hospital, Chinchpokli, to be disinfected. But, a recent rise in the number of admissions at Sewri hospital coupled with the shutting down of the boiler has created a shortage of clothes.
“Patients end up wearing the same clothes for three to four days which puts them as well as the hospital doctors and nurses at risk of catching infection,” said Pradeep Narkar, secretary of Municipal Mazdoor Union. In private hospitals, patients are given a washed set of clothes on a daily basis.
Around 750 tuberculosis patients are admitted at any time at the hospital. In the past five years, more than 30 staffers have succumbed to TB.
At present, 12 staff members are already on TB treatment. A few months ago, a 24-year-old member of the hospital staff contracted multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB, a severe form of the disease.
As a part of the TB programme, the BMC had announced plans to upgrade the Sewri hospital with additional diagnostic facilities and a dedicated 200-bed wing for MDR TB patients.
Dr Rajendra Nanavare, medical superintendent, TB Hospital, Sewri, said that the hospital would soon employ an attendant for the disinfecting boiler. Dr Arun Bamne, executive health officer, BMC, “We have a system in place to send the clothes to another hospital.”