Masina Hospital: On right path to regain past glory

A century-old Masina Hospital has come a long way in terms of its services. From a primary healthcare provider to a tertiary care provider, the journey has not been an easy one. There were some hiccups like infrastructural challenges along with funds constraints. But now, the hospital has determined to restore its past glory and continue serving people at an affordable cost, says Dr Vispi Jokhi, Medical Director at the hospital. In an interview with Jescilia Karayamparambil and R N Bhaskar, Jokhi talks about the future activity of the Byculla-based hospital in detail.

Where does Masina Hospital stand today?
Today, Masina Hospital is a 272-bedded, multi-speciality hospital. Most hospitals like us have become tertiary only by name, but we are on the right path to become a tertiary care hospital. In order to become a tertiary care hospital, one needs to have advanced infrastructure.

There was some delays in achieving this position, it was mainly due to lack of funds to support our infrastructure needs. The biggest advantage that we enjoy is the availability of space. So, our investment was largely to run the hospital and upgrade the equipment.

We work with a lot of partners for most part of our tertiary care. Here we have adopted the strategy of outsourcing. Only after a thorough background check, we give these professionals an opportunity to run their business in our premises. We depend on them for our capital needs. This allows us to treat our patients at an affordable cost and meet other capital requirements.

Our other source of income is donation. We are recipients of donation from various clubs or groups. We do not offer free services as that is not affordable but we give subsidised rates and make services available in the cost-effective manner. Unlike some hospitals, we do not have surcharges and have a policy-friendly approach. One of the biggest challenges for Masina Hospital is to upgrade its infrastructure

What is the progress made in the restoration work?
We were always busy with operational activity but we never thought about restoration. But recently, we got on board conservation architect Vikas Dilawari to prepare a report for us and he gave us a comprehensive report.

This will help us restore the building to its past glory.  The trustee board will form a Masina Restoration committee. As soon as the experts for the committee are selected, this plan will gain momentum.

We have invited experts, philanthropists, Jews from around the world that have interest in David Sassoon’s old estates and also members from David Sassoon’s family. Between 2011 and 2013, we have worked with various professional agencies who generated many reports. Despite having a blue-print, we could not implement the report as we did not have enough resources.

What is the other revenue model Masina Hospital is exploring?
This is a known fact that Apollo has been showing interest in this property for a long time. We do believe that asset of land can be used by giving it to corporate.

At the same time, we are very careful in a way that we don’t want that hospital to dwarf our hospital and prevent it from growing. As a corporate entity, we do want them to compete. At the same time, not compromise on the quality.

How much has the hospital invested in recent years?
At any given point of time, there are projects worth few crores going on. At the moment, we are about to implement a plan to upgrade the hospital.

We are developing a new causality department, new cosmetic laser surgery department, endoscopy department, and orthopaedic operation theatre etc. We are upgrading our burns’ Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

What is the occupancy rate of the hospital?
Other hospitals have been harping on occupancy, but we do not. The average length of stay in our hospital is reducing. However, the turnover of the hospital has improved. In our hospital, the figure gets skewed because of two departments—burns department and psychiatric department, as patients in these departments end up staying for longer.

Tell us about your psychiatric department?
We are the only facility in this area that has an indoor, protected psychiatric department. After the Mental Health Care Act directive, we took control of this department.

Now, we have made it a full-time department with full-time doctors and counsellors, unlike in the past. We have a team of five-six counsellors. We have occupation therapy department. We have various people coming for some extra therapy like yoga, dance, animal-assisted and art-based therapy.

In the past, the hospital got embroiled in certain issues due to the department; but we have taken corrective action post that. This issue will not surface again. In the next six-eight months, there will be a complete revamp of the mental health department. We are approaching a lot of philanthropist for the same.

Which aspect of insurance makes you unhappy?
We have tied up with many insurance agencies and we have given many patients the cashless services. The amount of work in the hospital has increased due to this. We try to negotiate as much as we can but our consultants find it less. So the consultants that have been getting more money in other hospitals have started deserting us.

Today, we are happy with insurance in its present form. In psychiatry, there is a lot of problems. The government has been saying that mental illness will be covered under insurance but no regulations or guidelines have been in place for the same.

All counselling should be covered by insurance. This will allow people to use this service. IREDA stated psychiatry should come under the ambit of insurance, but there is some grey area in this branch of medicines. We are keen that our psychiatry patient should be covered under insurance.

How do you view Ayushman Bharat?
We have been watching this scheme very closely. We see the rates provided under the scheme as a big problem. The rates are unrealistic. Adding to it, the government policies talk about indigent patients’ policy and if you take that burden as well along with Ayushman Bharat, we would be out of business.

This will happen if the government announces that empanelment of Ayushman Bharat is compulsory. It will be a recipe for disaster. Yet another problem here, is the misuse of this system. We charge around 30-40 per cent lower, compared to other hospitals in this area. Most of our beds are in the general ward category.

I would like this scheme to have a selective approach. In case of department like psychiatric and burns, which is not lucrative, I would like to introduce the scheme. But only if realistic package is suggested, we would like to open up this department.

Masina Hospital: On right path to regain past glory

What are the other activities that the hospital is doing?
Apart from improving the quality of our staff, we are planning to skill other youth as well. We are developing a course more in lines with vocational training. At present, we need to develop a protocol for this training and we are doing this with the help of Australia-based My Flex Health International.

This will not just be a way to build manpower for us but also skill the youth to work in India and abroad. The course will be recognised by other countries too. We are in talks with the state government to fund this course.

Does Masina plan to expand into homecare services?
I feel dearly about this concept. But one needs to put in a lot of time for the same. I have not been able to dedicate that much time to develop this services as I usually get caught up in other activities. But I hope to develop this space.

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