Awhad swings into action as Kalwa civic hospital sees 5 deaths in 1 day
The hospital is beleaguered with overcrowding, as patients from Thane civil hospital, under renovation, have been diverted here, say doctors
THANE: When five patients in Kalwa’s civic-run Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Hospital were declared dead on Thursday, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA from Kalwa-Mumbra assembly constituency, Jitendra Awhad, wasted no time and barged into the hospital to take the staff to task for neglecting patient care.
An unidentified 45-year-old man, who was admitted with fever, low sugar and low blood pressure on Wednesday morning, died of circulatory shock in the evening. Thirty four-year-old Bhaurao Ganesh Saradkar was brought in around 12.45 pm on Thursday with suspected heart attack and died within 20 minutes. A 22-year-old patient, identified as Ravindra, who was admitted on Wednesday night, died around 4 pm on Thursday due to septicaemia. Sixty-year-old Parmadevi was brought dead to the hospital at 4 pm the same day. On Thursday, another patient, 36-year-old Sujarim Siraj Pal, an alcoholic, was brought to the hospital around 1.30 pm, and died around 6 pm when he was being resuscitated in the ICU. Another unknown patient admitted on Monday died around 8:30 pm on Thursday after his infected bed sores developed septicaemia.
When Awhad arrived on the scene with his supporters, the Pal family complained that although the patient had died three hours ago, his body was still held up in the ICU.
“How can a dead patient be kept in the intensive care unit? He needs to be moved to the mortuary immediately to protect other patients from infection,” a visibly livid Awhad said in the presence of medical superintendent Dr Aniruddha Malgaonkar and hospital dean Dr Rakesh Barot.
He later tweeted: “The hospital is in shambles. Poor patients are being fleeced here, bills are inflated and doctors are not reporting to duty on time. Moreover, they are earning money by showing they are treating a dead patient. This is happening in chief minister’s Thane, and I don’t expect any action to be taken.”
While admitting that five patients had been declared dead in one day, the hospital administration denied negligence, as three of them had arrived in “a critical state to an already overburdened hospital and hence could not be saved”.
Pal, Dr Barot said, had developed aspiration pneumonia, “a condition where his vomit had reached his airways, causing an infection”. He said the patient was kept in a stretcher in the general ward as no beds were available. “His condition worsened in the evening, and we moved him into the ICU and tried to resuscitate him, but he was declared dead around 6 pm,” he said. “A post-mortem had to be conducted, and police were informed to conduct a panchnama (mandatory when the death occurs within eight hours of admission). We were told by them not to move him from the ICU; therefore we kept him at a distance from the other patients.”
In March this year chief minister Eknath Shinde had inaugurated the ICU unit with a capacity to house 40 patients and a new labour ward. At the time resident doctors had complained about poor facilities at their hostels, and minutes later Shinde announced suspension of the dean Dr Yogesh Sharma, and deputy dean Dr Suchitkumar Kamkhedkar. The hostel, which can accommodate 106 doctors, will be completed in September.
The problem of overcrowding however was overlooked. As the Thane Civil Hospital has been under renovation since April, some of the staff and patients have been moved to Thane Mental Hospital. The Thane hospital is being converted into a 900-bed super-speciality hospital. Typically, it takes 18 months for a hospital’s renovation.
Meanwhile, this has created a diversion of patients to the Kalwa hospital, which has been overwhelmed with numbers. Accusing Awhad of “pulling a stunt”, CM’s close associate and Thane district chief Naresh Maske said, “The number of OPD patients at the hospital each day has gone up from 1700 to 2200. If there is any negligence on part of the doctors, the municipal commissioner will order a probe.” He added, “Awhad was a minister earlier, but after the split in NCP Ajit Pawar has taken away a bulk of leaders with him. So there is nobody with Awhad now, and he is resorting to such tactics.”
The dean of the hospital said patient flow at the daily OPD has increased by 25%, and on Thursday, the 500-bed hospital received 567 patients for admission. “Our surgery and gynaecology departments have been very busy as also the 40-bed ICU. The obstetrics department has not been able to cope with 12 normal deliveries and 16 caesareans,” he said, adding that hospital has a staff of 115 faculty members, 150 resident doctors, and 180 staff nurses.
In the midst of infrastructural issues, patients are continuing to suffer.
“My father was admitted with malaria on Tuesday. The staff is asking people to pay ₹50 for charging mobile phones. Some charge ₹200 for a bed. The hospital is overcrowded and I have seen patients being pushed under the bed,” said his son. He also complained about the poor quality of food – “just daal rice in a bowl”. “I have now decided that he is better off being treated at home than this hospital.”