Mumbai : The freshly polished floors, the new paint and the improved infrastructure of Bharat Ratna Babasaheb Ambedkar Municipal General Hospital, Kandivali, are of no use to the patients who have to wait days to receive medical aid or to even see a doctor.
Maazin Khan (28) from Palghar, who has been diagnosed as a likely case of dengue, has been standing in the long, never-ending queues of Ambedkar Hospital (formerly Shatabdi Hospital) without being able to reach a doctor or getting any medical aid for three days now.
“A private practitioner near my house said that I might be suffering from dengue. He had suggested getting a few reports, which were very costly. So, I came here. But I am still waiting for my turn, two days later and it does not seem likely to happen even today. I am feeling very weak,” said Khan.
Apart from Khan, there are more than 100 patients in Ambedkar Hospital, awaiting their turn during the bustling OPD hours every day.
Raju Haldvani from Goregaon, has been visiting the hospital for three days now and is yet to receive medical aid.
“Everyday, there are huge crowds. It is not yet my turn, even though I arrived at 7 am, two hours before the designated time. I would rather go to a private clinic now,” he said.
Even after the inauguration of this hospital, nothing much has changed for the patients, as the number of specialists and general practitioners remains constant.
The problem has swelled further with the transfer of patients from Borivali’s Bhagwati Hospital to this hospital after the former went under redevelopment on October 5. Patients who earlier visited Bhagwati are now seeking help from Ambedkar Hospital, increasing the caseload of the available doctors threefold.
So, presently, Ambedkar Hospital caters to the needs of patients hailing from Kandivali, Film City, Goregaon, to the interior of Thane District, Palghar, Dahanu Road and also from neighbouring Gujarat and other areas.
It is estimated that over 300 patients come to this hospital everyday, a place managed by a small staff of 55 to 60 people.
“More than 200 vacancies for doctors and nurses have been lying vacant for years in both Bhagwati and Ambedkar hospitals. Now, with the increased load of patients, the whole system of Ambedkar Hospital has come to a standstill. While the BMC is ignorant of the sufferings of the patients, they are facing tremendous problems,” said Dilip Bhausaheb Lande, member of BMC’s Public Health Committee.
He also pointed out that with a generous budget of Rs 23,000 crore, the work of the BMC boils down to the simple process of recruitment.
“Why is it taking so much time when the hospital was complete a month ago? Have we accepted that we will do and perform everything taking our own good time and mood in government offices? And anyway, this debate is not recent and it has been years since we have been asking for fresh recruitment to fill up the available vacancy,” he said.
“It is not just shortage of staff that the hospital is suffering from, but also shortage of medicines. Patients are now also being referred to KEM and Sion Hospital due to the staff shortage. I raised the issue in the Public Health Committee like I have done innumerable times before. But authorities are not taking matters seriously and recruitment is being delayed day after day,” said Dr Ajanta Yadav, another member of the BMC’s Public Health Committee.
She also pointed out that the basic facility of blood tests is not available in the hospital. “Dengue and malaria patients are waiting in queues. Isn’t this shameful enough to force the BMC to take a concrete step at least now?” she asked.
Hansaben Gunvantrai Desai, another member of BMC’s public health committee said, “The problem that BMC is facing is that the doctors themselves don’t want to get recruited in the public system as they are well-paid in private set-ups and have to work fixed hours. Besides, they can practise independently as well.”