Medics take samples from a patient in the isolation ward of novel coronavirus (COVID-19)
Medics take samples from a patient in the isolation ward of novel coronavirus (COVID-19)
Photo: PTI

Mumbai: Faced with a rising number of coronavirus cases, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is under pressure to make arrangements for more isolation wards. It has now embarked on a hunt for abandoned hospitals in the city, where it can house them. Health officials said they have zeroed in on four such hospitals.

Suresh Kakani, the BMC additional municipal commissioner (health), said a team was tasked with compiling data on abandoned hospitals, clinics and nursing homes across the city, which can be converted into isolation wards in case of an emergency.

“Instead of building new isolation centres in the city, we decided to use spaces which were already hospitals but abandoned. There are many hospitals, clinics and nursing homes lying unused in the city which will be temporarily converted into isolation wards,” he said.

For accommodating the increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients, the BMC recently converted the Seven Hills Hospital to an isolation centre, with nearly 500 beds. An abandoned maternity hospital next to Lilavati hospital too will be put to similar use.

“We met with the administration of Lilavati hospital, and they were ready to help us convert the maternity home to an isolation building for COVID-19 patients. The hospital will have 30 isolation beds, which can be used in a worst-case scenario,” Kakani said.

The BMC is also considering converting five abandoned hospitals to isolation buildings, including the DS Kothari Hospital at Charni Road and the civic MH+D hospital in Bhandup.

“Due to legal issues, most of the hospitals are unused, so we have to look into those issues also, for which we will seek help from the legal department of the BMC,” he added.

MH+D, a maternity hospital lying unused for more than a decade, has been dubbed a ‘haunted house’. It has become a godown for illegal activities and in the past, several residents have complained to BMC of the ill-use of these premises.

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