At a time when the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is planning to upgrade its hospitals and clinics and even begin robotic surgeries, the civic-run BYL Nair Hospital continues to struggle to procure new MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machines. In the last two years, there has been an underwhelming response from bidders to tenders floated by the BMC.
𝗢𝗻𝗲 𝗠𝗥𝗜 𝗺𝗮𝗰𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗲 𝗮𝘁 𝗲𝗮𝗰𝗵 𝗰𝗶𝘃𝗶𝗰-𝗿𝘂𝗻 𝗵𝗼𝘀𝗽𝗶𝘁𝗮𝗹𝘀
There is one MRI machine in each of the four civic-run hospitals – KEM, Sion, Nair and Cooper. However, one additional machine is required to fulfil the pending and emerging needs. There are additional machines but their specification needs to be scrutinised by the Central Purchase Department of the hospitals. While civic hospitals charge Rs2,500 for an MRI, private hospitals and clinics charge nothing less than double this amount.
An emergency meeting was held at the BMC headquarters in December last year with Additional Municipal Commissioner Dr Sanjeev Kumar. A senior radiologist said the purchase was to be finalised in 2020 but the Covid-19 pandemic hit and the entire healthcare machinery was diverted towards its management.
He said, “We had asked for a 1.5 Tesla MRI machine but no vendor came forward. This time we are going for the advanced 3 Tesla MRI machine. The process was held-up due to red tape. We do not expect the machines to be installed before six-seven months.”
𝗥𝘀 𝟭𝟮𝟬 𝗰𝗿𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝘀𝗮𝗻𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗲𝗱 𝗶𝗻 𝗕𝗠𝗖 𝗯𝘂𝗱𝗴𝗲𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗰𝘂𝗿𝗲 𝗻𝗲𝘄 𝗺𝗮𝗰𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗲
Dr Kumar said they have sanctioned Rs120 crore in the 2023-24 BMC budget to procure a new machine, which he assured will be installed soon.
In the meantime, the recurring technical snags in old machines are inconveniencing patients, who are forced to get MRIs done at private clinics. A senior official said on condition of anonymity that the new machines won’t be in service for at least three more months.
𝗣𝗼𝗼𝗿 𝗽𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲 𝘀𝘂𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗱𝘂𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗰𝗼𝘀𝘁𝗹𝘆 𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗮𝘁 𝗽𝗿𝗶𝘃𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝗵𝗼𝘀𝗽𝗶𝘁𝗮𝗹𝘀
Poor people visit civic hospitals as they can’t afford treatment at private hospitals. However, their indignation is amplified when they are forced to shell out money for key tests outside the hospital. The resilience of those below the poverty line gets tested when they have to wait for an MRI for months due to non-functional machines and an overburdened radiology department. Mostly the decision of surgery is based on an MRI.
The matter of non-functional MRI machines at Nair Hospital dates back to February 2018, when a patient, Rajesh Maru, a resident of Lalbaug, was killed after being pulled into the machine with an oxygen cylinder. After the incident, the hospital’s radiology department was shut for a few months and patients were asked to visit private clinics for MRIs.
𝗡𝗼 𝗯𝗶𝗱𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗺𝗮𝗰𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗲 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗰𝘂𝗿𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁
A hospital official said on condition of anonymity, “We were to procure a new machine after the incident, but the process was stuck as there were no bidders. During the pandemic, we put up a tender seven times but there was no response from any of the bidders. As a result, we repaired the old machine for use.”
The official added, “We learnt that the BMC tendering process is very difficult, owing to which bidders find themselves restrained. Moreover, the higher authorities pointed out unnecessary loopholes in the tender so they can add their commission. The retendering work involves a lot of paperwork and it takes two to three months.”
𝗦𝗮𝗺𝗲 𝗶𝘀𝘀𝘂𝗲 𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗦𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗛𝗼𝘀𝗽𝗶𝘁𝗮𝗹
Sion Hospital, too, is facing a shortage of MRI machines. It currently has two, out of which one has been used extensively and is 11 years old, therefore requiring heavy maintenance. “We conduct about 25 MRIs per day. It is a lengthy process that takes about 45 minutes, unlike CT scans, of which we conduct about 150 every day,” said hospital Dean Dr Mohan Joshi. Sion Hospital sees a demand of roughly 100 MRIs every day, Dr Joshi said.
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