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Omicron alarm: Demand to 'serve' poor by reviving Ahmedabad's VS Hospital

By Our Representative 

Even as the Omicron threat looms large over Gujarat, as in other parts of India, independent and permanent board members of the Chinai Maternity and Sarabhai General Hospitals (VSH), Ahmedabad, have sharply criticized the city corporation authorities for closing down VSH and transferring its beds, equipment and staff to the newly built adjacent “profit-oriented” Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (SVP) Hospital bypassing them, allegedly for promoting medical tourism.
Jay Sheth, Dr Nishith Shah, Rupa Chinai and Brijesh Chinai, who represent the donor families of the VS Hospital, established in 1930 with the blessings of Sardar Patel and Gandhiji, said in a statement that the 1,155 bed VSH “was a fully functioning institution providing quality and affordable medical care to the poorest citizens of Ahmedabad” till the “transfer” took place in 2012.
The independent members, who make up almost half the nine member the board of management representing the Chinai and Sarabhai Trusts, said, in view of the next health crisis in the form of Omicron, the VHS “with its 1,155 beds and equipment” along with its permanent staff should be urgently restored and “brought back to full gear”.
Stating that it would also mean “restoration” of all powers to the VSH Board of Management, which are being “consistently undermined” by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) authorities, the statement said, this is particularly required now as, with the emergence of the Omicron strain, there is no other public hospitals to critically serve the poor sections of the city apart from the Civil Hospital and the VS Hospital.
Stating that the transfer process “was strongly opposed by us, who make up almost half the nine member Board of Management, who represent the Chinai and Sarabhai Trusts.”, statement said, “We had advised that while we have no issues with the new SVP Hospital, we felt that with basic repairs the VSH could continue to provide for the needs of the poor, while SVP catered to a different segment of society.”
“The matter has been contested since 2012 and is currently pending before the Gujarat High Court”, the statement said, adding, “During the past two years of the Covid pandemic, like all other administrations across the country, the Ahmedabad administration has also been under enormous pressure to ensure public health services provide access, quality and affordable critical care to the poorest of citizens.”
It underlined, “We have repeatedly advised the VS Board to bring back their entire permanent staff that have been transferred out to other institutions. Instead the board has been making contractual appointments and bringing in untrained staff who have no commitment to public service. We have also demand the restoration of 1,155 beds and equipment that was transferred to SVP Hospital.”
Pointing out that “this too remains pending, while efforts are ongoing to sell off equipment from departments such as the Cath Lab, where charges were lower than that at SVP or private hospitals”, the statement regretted, “All this was done even while then Board Chairperson publicly declared that ‘not even a pin will be taken from VSH to SVP’.”

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