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Independent trustees oppose Gujarat hospital tie-up with defence PSU, budget 'approval'

Counterview Desk

Independent board members of Ahmedabad's premier public-charitable health institutions, Chinai Maternity and Sarabhai General Hospitals (VS), in a letter to the Commissioner, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), with copies to the VS Hospital chairperson and the Charity Commissioner, Ahmedabad, have protested against the manner in which the legally constituted VS Board and Trusts were "bypassed" while passing the budget worth Rs 163.85 crore for the hospital.
Signed by Rupa Chinai, Brijesh Chinai, Jay Sheth and Dr Nishith Shah, the donor family representatives in the hospital board, the letter also protests against the unilateral decision of the Gujarat government through a resolution dated April 16, 2021 wherein VSH will now function as a “base hospital” in partnership with the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), a Government of India public sector undertaking. 
While all efforts to support Covid patients is needed, the VSH is capable and must be equipped with return of its staff, beds and equipment, to fully participate in patient care, they assert.

Text:

This is to register our strong protest at the illegal and blatantly disrespectful manner in which the independent VS Board of Management is being bypassed on vital issues pertaining to the financial affairs and management of the Sarabhai General and Chinai Maternity Hospitals.
On April 14, 2021, we learnt to our amazement that the AMC would quietly pass the annual budget of the VSH the next day, bypassing the VS Board of Management. We had expressed our protest at this illegal action in an email letter sent to you the same day. The Board Chairperson had been appointed on March 10, 2021 and we four donor family representatives, who are permanent Board members, were also available to attend a zoom meeting at short notice to take up the Budget issue on behalf of the nine member Board.
Yet you ignored us and went ahead to pass the budget at the AMC Board meeting on April 15. On April 16, we received a letter from the VS Medical Superintendent offering the weak excuse that as the four AMC members are not appointed and the Board is not presently formed, the VSH budget was hence presented to the AMC Standing Committee.
We see this as yet another AMC attempt to challenge the existence of an independent public institution, undermining public accountability and transparency in financial dealings.
You are requested to immediately deliver to each of us a copy of the detailed 2021-22 budget for the public record and analysis.
Secondly, please provide to us all details of how the VS Hospital is being opened up for the treatment of Covid patients, as per AMC order of April 14, 2021. We had urged you to do this since October 2019. The Gujarat High Court ordered you to do the same during the first wave of the Covid epidemic. Nevertheless, late though this comes, we welcome the move.
Creation of Sardar Patel in 1931, its independent management is a proven model of 90 years of dedicated public-charitable service in Ahmedabad
Surely the magnitude of this challenge calls for the constitution of the full VSH Board of Management being available to partner in opening up the hospital services. Or is this another opportunity the AMC seeks to bypass the Board?
We would also like to understand the implications of the Gujarat Government Resolution, dated April 16, 2021 wherein VSH will now function as a “base hospital” in partnership with Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO). Does the AMC have any intention of informing the VSH Board and seeking its consent on this important decision that has far reaching implications on the future existence of these hospitals and the independent Trusts that manage them?
The Sarabhai and Chinai Hospitals are the creation of Sardar Patel in 1931. Its independent management — where administration and citizens work in partnership — is a proven model of 90 years of dedicated public-charitable service to the poorest citizens of Ahmedabad.
In view of the current public health crisis overwhelming Ahmedabad, we demand that the Sarabhai and Chinai Hospitals be revived and made operational to full capacity in terms of beds, equipment and return of its original staff. We also seek to know the road map for the permanent revival of the two hospitals in service of the poorest citizens of Ahmedabad.

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