Coronavirus in Mumbai:  BMC's Najam Baugh OPD at Sandhurst Road yearns for patients

It has been more than three months since BMC set-up a state-of-the-art OPD facility at the famous Najam Baugh Banquet Hall, Sandhst urst Road for Covid-19 patients, but till date it has still not been opened for the public.

The Najam Baug banquet hall was transformed into a CCC-2 facility by a special team of urban planners from the Ahmedabad University at the BMC’s behest. As the number of cases surged in May, BMC upgraded the isolation centre to an OPD facility. Najam Baug, has all the modern-day facilities like air conditioning, CCTV cameras, elevators and clean washroom. Later, portable X-ray and ECG machines, blood investigation machines and oxygen cylinders were installed there. A smart war room was also formed along with separate coups for doctors. All the equipment was in place by mid-July however the OPD was never used.

Local public representatives complained that patients were being taken to private hospitals and NSCI Worli. Despite repeated attempts, B Ward Health Officer Dr Sandeep Gaikwad and AMC (Health) Suresh Kakani were unavailable for comments.

When BMC decided to shut down most of the isolation centres, Local Congress MLA Amin Patel argued in favour of continuing the Najam Baug facility. "The facility was started in April. As cases surged, we upgraded it into an OPD. It is equipped with expensive gadgets. The chance for another spike also can't be ruled out. Most of the centres are closed now," Patel said.

A team of 50 doctors had also offered voluntary service, however, the OPD facility is yet to see the light of the day. "Medical gadgets worth Rs 30 lakhs are lying unused, a team of doctors is available but they are unable to do anything" said Dr Moatasim Solkar, one of the 50 doctors, who offered to help.

"The BMC officials are unable to give a concrete reason as to why they are delaying the opening of this facility. We have to take local patients to NSCI and private hospitals despite having a centre in our area,” complained Zohair Diwan, a social activist and owner of NGO NESH (Nobody Ever Sleeps Hungry).

When contacted, Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Zone 1), Harshad Kale, said a 300-bed facility has been set up at Richardson & Cruddas, which is within 1-km of the Najam Baug. "Most of the beds in Richardson are lying vacant so having two centres in such close proximity is meaningless. Now when cases are falling, the equipment at Najam Baug could be shifted to Richardson," Kale said. Kale added that now it is for the Public Health Department and local ward officials to decide whether to shut down the Najam Baug facility or make it functional.

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