Mumbai hospitals reeks of urine and filth while kin of patients look on from afar


Mumbai Hospitals with their limited, creaking health infrastructure and overworked staff, have had to put up with squalor, uncleared bed pans and delayed disposal of dead bodies. As the number of Covid-19 patients keep increasing relatives gape helplessly not knowing what to do.

A woman in her late 30s was sitting on a cement bench outside Sion Hospital out of breath from sobbing, and not looking up even when someone asked if she needed any help.

“Her father is a Covid-19 patient. He died and she wants to have a last look at him. They are not letting her go upstairs,” said Kalavati (name changed) who was sitting nearby, herself too distressed to provide any solace.

Kalavati was at the hospital because her husband, who fell in the bathroom of their house in Mulund 12 days and was paralysed, was brought there. Later doctors told her he tested positive for Covid-19.

“For the few days I was with him in the hospital ward, I used to take care of him. Now, they have forced the family members outside the hospital,” she said.

“When I was in the ward, I saw bedpans not being cleared for several hours, all of them lying near the patients’ beds, the whole ward was stinking of urine. For relatives like us it was unbearable to live there, I can’t imagine the condition of patients lying there. I used to feed my husband milk, because the staff refused to, as he was infected. Now that I am not allowed inside, I don’t think anyone is feeding him. I know he will die, but what do I do?” she said.

Many other Covid-19 patients and their relatives approaching Mumbai hospitals, which are trying to accommodate as many as possible with their limited, creaking health infrastructure and overworked staff, complain they are forced to put up with squalor, uncleared bedpans and delayed disposal of dead bodies.

Bhavna ( name changed), whose husband was hospitalised for Covid-19, said, “Even animals won’t be able to stay in the ward. It is so filthy.”

At Sion Hospital, the dean was recently removed after dead bodies were left lying in the wards next to patients being treated. The new dean, Ramesh Bharmal, told Media, “We will get these checked. We have deputed several nurses and staff to ensure that this does not happen. We will inquire into it immediately.”

Things are better managed at the state government-run St George Hospital in South Mumbai. The hospital surroundings are clean, with no relatives milling about. The hospital receives some serious Covid19 cases.

Dr Akash Khobragade, superintendent of St George Hospital, said, “We have 180 beds, of which 42 have ventilators, which are all occupied. We keep getting calls from other hospitals asking us to take patients. We find it bad to say no, but when beds are full, we have no option to say that.”

St George Hospital is going to add 100 beds which have ICU and ventilators facilities. The hospital added 30 beds on Saturday, which were occupied in just two hours, highlighting the acute shortage of beds in the city.

The monsoons are a cause of worry for hospitals as the city gets to see more cases of malaria, dengue and leptospirosis. The influx of patients becomes so heavy during that time that patients at times sleep on makeshift beds or on the floor of civic and government hospitals.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed. We have now barely enough doctors and nurses for patients. If there is an influx then everything would be further stretched,” said a doctor at a civic hospital