On the heels of the devastating blaze in a hospital in Virar which went on to claim 19 lives, Mumbai was in the news within the next couple of days for the déjà vu moment of another uncannily similar fire in a hospital. In this incident, four patients who were admitted in the intensive care unit of a private hospital in Mumbra, near Mumbai, were killed after a major fire broke out early on Wednesday, 28th July.
Prime Criticare Hospital is a ground-plus facility which is located at Shimla Park, on the old Mumbai-Pune road at Kausa in Mumbra. According to Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) officials, around 20 patients were admitted at the time of the mishap there.
The Indian Express reports, “At the Mumbra hospital, the authorities said a ward boy, Sadiq Engineer, first spotted fire in a cabin near the meter room. He tried to douse the flames with a fire extinguisher, but failed, and raised the alarm.
Deputy Municipal Commissioner Manish Joshi (TMC) said, “After the fire was reported, local residents and fire officials rescued 16 patients. Four others admitted in the ICU ward succumbed; two of them expired while being shifted (out).”
With the blaze spreading fast across the hospital, local residents broke open the grille and glass windows to rescue patients.
Sayad Rehan, 50, who worked in an insurance company, was admitted in the ICU on the ground floor on April 22 after he was diagnosed with pneumonia. As smoke took over the ward, he said, “we tried opening the main doors to escape, but they got locked since the fire and smoke was all over the room”.”
Bombay HC livid, pulls up state govt, civic bodies-“Don’t want hospitals to be Jatugrih”
The macabre dance of death at hospitals in quick succession in Maharashtra forced an incensed HC to take cognizance and rap the authorities in no uncertain terms. The Express released an in-depth report of the matter stating-The Bombay High Court pulled up the state government and civic authorities over recent accidents including fire incidents in hospitals across Maharashtra, and said that fire audits and compliances should be undertaken in an expeditious manner.
The HC observed that the safety of patients was of paramount importance and it does not want hospitals turning into potential “Jatugrih/ Lakshagrih” — a house made of wax through which the Kauravas attempted to eliminate the Pandavas during their exile, as referred to in the Mahabharat.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni was hearing a PIL filed by city-based lawyer Sneha Marjadi alleging improper management of Covid-19 treatment in Maharashtra and seeking directions pertaining to shortage of Remdesivir and oxygen supply among others.
The court broadened the scope of the PIL and said, “You (civic authorities) have to conduct a fire audit of all hospitals and seek compliance earliest. If you are giving admissions in hospitals to patients, you should save lives there,” the HC said.
The bench went on to say, “They (patients) are already going through agony, pain and then they are hospitalized. They should not be suffering like this. Who has the time to check if hospitals are safe or not? We understand these are special times and everything is put to test. We have to leave our work aside and look into basic compliances. We do not want any fire incidents now.”
The court, asking authorities to give status report on fire audits, also said that failure of private hospital management to put in place adequate fire safety measures must be viewed “seriously”.