KEM Hospital flooded as rains play havoc with healthcare

As India's financial capital Mumbai was yet again brought to its knees by a monsoon deluge on Tuesday, water poured into the ground floor wards of the state-run King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital in Parel, one of the city's busiest public medical facilities, forcing the administration to shift around 45-50 female patients to the already crowded first and second floors.

The hospital's ground floor houses two paediatric wards, two medicine wards, casualty and emergency ward.

The last time KEM's corridors were inundated was during the 2005 deluge, hospital dean Dr Avinash Supe said.

Ward number four mostly had patients recovering from fever, malaria, stroke, heart disease. Supe said a decision to move the patients was taken in the afternoon after rain water that was flowing through the corridor had started entering the wards. "We have two pumps to drain water from corridors but today the force was way too much. We decided to move out patients as a precautionary measure," he said. Supe said the water had started receding by evening.

''The water flows from Parel village towards our hospital. Water collected in ward 4 and 4A. Critical patients were transferred to other floors,'' Supe said, adding the hospital has decided to provide shelter to all patients who visited on Tuesday since they had no means to return home.

In marked contrast, the Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital, located a stone's throw away, remained dry, except for some waterlogging at the gates. Both hospitals, started in 1926, are 90 years old. The difference is that Wadia Hospital is built on a higher platform, and is also topographically higher than KEM hospital.

At KEM, the emergency area remained unaffected though some equipment could have suffered damage.

Patients, clutching their medical files to their chests, some waded through knee-deep water in corridors or sat on wheelchairs to be transferred to another ward. Paediatric patients remained in their crib-like cots, with their parents tense by their side.

''This is the situation every Monsoon. The patient load is also double the capacity leading to risk of infection spread,'' nurse Kalpana Manjula, secretary of Noble Nursing Union, told The Indian Express.

The public hospitals usually remain full during this time of the year due to monsoon diseases and it was a challenge to find room to accommodate the patients. But the dean confirmed that surgeries didn't have to be cancelled as most staffers had reached hospital in the morning.

The campus of BYL Nair Hospital at Mumbai Central too was submerged in knee deep water though fortunately the wards remained unaffected. Dean Dr Ramesh Bharmal said staffers were asked to work double shifts as those scheduled for afternoon duty couldn't reach the hospital. Mumbai Central was one of the badly affected areas on Tuesday. The hospital used its ambulances to ferry its staffers to their Haji Ali quarters. Both KEM and Nair had arranged for their staffers to stay on the campus.

While Sion witnessed flooding, there was no waterlogging inside the premises of Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital there. Acting dean Dr Jayashree Mondkar said that the services remained unaffected as most nurses and doctors from the morning shift reported to work.

The doctor's quarters were flooded completely flooded and engineers were called in to ensure if it was safe for the students to stay there.

Most public hospitals ran thin outpatient departments. Ambulances too couldn't ply beyond a few morning hours and many ambulance service providers stopped accepting calls. One of the providers told The Times of India they took 2-4 hours to transport each patient and subsequently stopped services in the afternoon.