Mumbai: Govt dental hospital becomes pain in the teeth for patients

Mumbai: While dental treatment in private hospitals or clinics in the city can cause a large dent in the wallet, patients with prior appointments at the Government Dental College and Hospital in south Mumbai are being turned away and asked to return three or four days later even for a basic dental X-ray.

The hospital lacks basic materials required for teeth-filling procedures, and patients are being told to call and check for an appointment before showing up at the hospital.

Doctors and students at the hospital said they had been raising the issue with the hospital administration, but no action has been taken to resolve the problem.

The Government Dental College and Hospital in the St George Hospital premises on P D’ Mello Road is one of only two public dental hospitals in the city, the other being the civic-run Nair Hospital Dental College at Mumbai Central.

The only state-run dental hospital in the city used to get more than 500 patients daily on OPD basis, but when FPJ visited it on Wednesday, the hospital wore a deserted look with hardly any patients to be seen.

For past few days, patients are suffering as most of the times machines are shut or due to lack of basic materials used for treatment. Students and doctors say hospital services have been hit due to a lack of basic medical equipment.

“The radiology department does not have proper working equipment even for basic procedures. There is a shortage of X-ray films, and equipment for cavity-filling is also not available,” said a doctor at the hospital, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

42-year-old Amina Saji from Govandi, who visited the hospital for an X-ray, was asked to go back as the radiology department was shut. “I had severe pain in my teeth, for which I was advised by my doctor to get an X-ray done.

However, the hospital staff asked me to return after three days as their X-ray machine was not working,” Saji said. “They also gave me a phone number, and told me to call on the number before coming to the hospital next,” she added.

Another patient, Rajesh Khillari, a resident of Lalbaugh said that last week he had visited the hospital for a routine check-up but was refused by the staff and told to come after three days.

“I had done a root canal last year for which I was asked to come for a routine check-up as it was not done properly. But last week when I came, the staff forced me to go back and come next week as they do not have the material for a root canal,” he said.

Students at the dental college are also affected as they are unable to get hands-on practical experience for their studies.

“It is not the first time we are facing this. Last year, the same situation had arisen, and we did not perform any practicals. We have complained about this to the hospital administration, but the situation remains the same,” said one of the students.

Dr Vivek Pakhmode, dean of the hospital said, “Patients are suffering as the tender process has been delayed, and we are trying to resolve the problem at the earliest.”

Dr TP Lahane, Director of Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) said he was not aware of the issue. “We will conduct a complete investigation for which a team will be formed. It will submit a report in the next seven days,” Lahane assured.

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