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Politician-babu coterie 'running' Sardar Patel-founded Ahmedabad hospital amidst Covid

By Rupa Chinai*
The determined effort of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) to run the public-charitable Chinai Maternity and Sarabhai General Hospitals to the ground and kill these institutions has surpassed all limits of irresponsibility. 
On June 22, 2020 a pregnant woman, age 28, and her two unborn babies were brought to Chinai Maternity Hospital by a 108 Ambulance service. Handling pregnancy related emergencies such as eclampsia (a common complication of pregnancy) is a routine part of the services offered in a maternity hospital. Junior MBBS doctors who are running the emergency services directed the patient to another hospital and both the woman and her unborn babies died before they could get help.
Around the same time, in another similar incident the AMC turned upon the Trust run 300 bed Rajasthan Hospital in Ahmedabad and fined them Rs 77 lakh for the alleged death of a Covid patient due to denial of treatment at the hospital.
The question we have to ask the AMC Commissioner is why should he not be paying a penalty for what he and the Corporation is doing to patients at Vadilal Sarabhai Hospital (VSH) when the circumstances of denial of services are exactly similar?
We also ask the AMC Commissioner and its representatives on the VSH Board where have the permanent and experienced staff employed by the VSH Board of Management gone? Who authorised their transfer out of the hospital and who permitted the closure of specialist services at these institutions? None of these been passed by the VSH Board and neither has it permitted the contracted junior doctors to take charge of services.
When the Gujarat High Court recently asked the AMC to open services at VSH for Covid patients, the AMC stand was that facilities here are needed for non-Covid patients. However, to date there has been no attempt to fulfill that commitment and thus should not the Commissioner be held in contempt of Court for abdication of responsibility in the time of acute crisis?
It is such irresponsible actions arbitrarily taken by the AMC Commissioner and AMC representatives on the VSH Board, that has brought disrepute to these venerable institutions, established in 1930 by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. It is causing us, the donor family representatives on the VSH Board to hang our heads in shame and helplesness.
Since 2012 the VSH and its independent Board of Management* have been held to ransom and undermined by a coterie connected to the AMC-Medical Education Trust (MET – politicians, bureaucrats and persons connected to the ruling party). They have lost no opportunity to bypass the functioning of the independent Board of Management, while successive AMC corporations and the Board Chairpersons have been mute witnesses or played a partisan role.
During the time of Covid crisis, one notes with dismay that AMC is making no attempt to reopen and augment 1,155 beds at VSH
Reports in Ahmedabad’s Gujarati press of July 21, 2020 have highlighted the move towards contractual appointments being made at VSH. Our consistent stand has been that all permanent staff appointed by the VSH Board of Management, who have been illegally transferred to other institutions, must be reinstated at their earlier posts in VSH.
Secondly, AMC-MET must have no role in appointing staff or interfering in any other administration matter, as this falls is the sole jurisdiction of the VSH Board of Management. We believe that underpaid contractual employees adversely affect the morale of our health staff and efficiency of the hospital’s functioning. Our 90 years of partnering with our permanent staff at all levels has demonstrated a sense of belonging, ownership and service that contributed to the golden years of VSH’s reputation.
Over the past nine years we have repeatedly pointed to the scams and administration chaos being perpetuated at the behest of AMC-MET and its appointees at the VSH. This includes the mismanagement of the employees Provident Fund resulting in Rs.8 crore penalty by the Provident Fund Commissioner, where the Board is being asked to take a loan towards its payment, leading to further misutilisation of public money.
Another instance of obfuscation of accountability is the appointment of private auditors who never provide accounts to the Board but the latter is repeatedly asked to clear it. This despite half the Board, composed of its independent members, opposing the appointment of private agencies and demanding that accounts be handled by AMC auditors, as done previously.
The duplicate patient receipt book scam, the fake injection scandal are some other incidents, representing only a tip of the corruption iceberg. These instances are not mere allegations but acknowledged facts in Board room discussions, but with no follow up action on stemming the rot and milking dry of public institutions.
During this time of the Covid crisis, one notes with dismay that the AMC is making no attempt to reopen and augment the 1,155 beds at VSH. We are at a loss to understand AMC resistance to this plea repeatedly made by us and backed by the Gujarat High Court. That too, when it is well recognised that increased access to oxygen connected hospital beds is the only means available in bringing down the Covid death toll.
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*On behalf of Brijesh Chinai, Jay Sheth, Dr. Nishith Shah, board members, Chinai Maternity, Sarabhai General Hospitals, Ahmedabad

Comments

Sharad Shah said…
Sad to see a great institution getting such stepmotherly treatment.

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