COVID-19 in Mumbai: BJP MLA demands action against centre management in Mulund

Alleging multiple discrepancies and non-compliance of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines, Mulund Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) Mihir Kotecha has demanded an FIR against the doctors and officer bearers of the trust that operated the Mulund Jumbo COVID-19 centre. Kotecha has written to BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) commissioner, demanding action against the trust in 48 hours and has threatened to move the High Court otherwise.

Kotecha, in his letter to BMC chief Iqbal Singh Chahal, has demanded to immediately terminate the contract with the trust Ms Aasha Cancer Trust and Research Centre, which is running the Mulund COVID-19 centre.

The BMC had last month issued a notice to Ms Aasha Cancer Trust and Research Centre and had threatened to terminate its contract for not following the discharge guidelines framed by the ICMR; however, action was taken against the centre thereafter.

The notice issued by T-Ward assistant municipal Commissioner Kishore Gandhi too has highlighted non-compliance. The notice read, "Out of 2,645 patients so far, 187 were shifted to higher facilities, 146 were discharged against medical advice and 11 died. Of the remaining 2,299 patients, only 1,550 have been discharged, from which 406 (26.19%) were discharged by the 11th day, while 1,144 (73.81%) were discharged after the 11th day. Thus, when we expect 85% of patients to be discharged by the 11th day as per the ICMR policy, you have only discharged 26.19% patients. This clearly shows complete non-compliance."

The trust was then asked to get a written opinion from the centre’s dean along with the bills for every patient who is not discharged after the 10th day.

According to Kotecha, the jumbo centre at Mulund’s Richardson and Cruddas plot is allegedly not discharging asymptomatic patients even after 10 days of admission and has been admitting people to the oxygen bed even if the patients does not need one.

Quoting dean Dr Pradeep Angre's report on the functioning of the centre, Kotecha further alleged, "The report submitted to the civic body has highlighted 16 points with multiple lapses, which include centre working with just 50 per cent or less strength of actually required staff and not discharging many asymptomatic patients as per policy. In 45 days, 20 patients died in the facility. This should be probed by the death committee. There are not enough Lab technicians hired; hence, medical tests are delayed. There were instances of patients not being administered Remidisivir despite enough stock available at the facility."

Demanding stringent action, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA alleged that the trust wants to keep full occupancy at the centre, as it’s paid Rs 1,100 per day for a regular bed and Rs 6,000 for an ICU bed. Alleging a jumbo discharge scam, he said, “This looks like an attempt to inflate the bills. The BMC must not make payments for patients discharged after the 10th day. And the amount that has been paid already should be recovered. I have also demanded a probe against BMC officers for not acting against the trust more than a month after the dean’s report, pointing out lacunae and non-compliance, was submitted to them,” Kotecha said.

"We are investigating the matter," said Additional Municipal Commissioner (Health) Suresh Kakani.

The BMC had outsourced over 70 per cent of its beds at five of its biggest COVID-19 field hospitals, called jumbo centres, in July. These facilities have approximately 7,285 beds, out of which 5,245 have been given out on a contract to three private health care organisations.

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