City's only kids' hospital ailing due to cash crunch, may shut down

Mumbai: The only dedicated hospital for children in the city, the 91-year-old Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital, Parel, is likely to shut down as it is facing a huge cash crunch. This comes after the hospital authorities declared 'bankruptcy', stating they did not have money left to pay employee salaries.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has to pay the 600-bed hospital Rs 98 crore, of which it has only released Rs 14 crore on Friday. This amount is insufficient to take care of the hospital's worries. “The corporation takes responsibility for 75 per cent of the hospital’s operations and the money is paid on a quarterly basis. But it has been learnt that the BMC has not paid Rs 98 crore for the last quarter and the hospital is in dire straits,” said a hospital staffer.

Amey Ghole, chairman, public health committee, BMC, said the corporation was doing its best to provide all necessary help to prevent the hospital from closing down. Initially, the corporation had refused to provide any funds, but after a meeting with Mayor Kishori Pednekar, it was decided to release enough funds to keep the hospital functional.

“At the meeting on Friday, the mayor handed over a cheque of Rs14 crore to the hospital authority,” said Ghole.

A letter posted on the hospital notice board reads, “All employees are hereby informed due to non-receipt of grants from Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, and left with no fund, salaries and wage payments cannot be made on due date of this month i.e. November, 2019.”

Further, the letter requests staffers to cooperate with the hospital and informs that pending salaries and wages will be paid only after BMC releases the grant.

On Thursday, the Hospital Kamgar Union had submitted a letter, threatening a protest unless their demands were met. Earlier, the state government used to provide grants to the hospital but it stopped doing so and now, the BMC has done the same thing. “Despite being the richest civic body, it is not able to release the pending amount. It has money to spend on tainted contractors but not for hospitals,” said Prakash Reddy, general secretary of Laal Bavta Vahtuk Kamgar Union.

He further said this attitude of BMC is affecting hundreds of hospital staffers, as they have rents to pay, as well as their children's school fees. Patients are suffering as their parents must buy medicines from outside, which is an expensive proposition. “Four decades ago, the corporation tied up with the hospital to provide maternal and paediatric treatment at reasonable rates to poor patients. But now, everything has changed,” said Reddy.

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