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ESIC Hospital fire: a year on, the loss stings

Marol hospital still defunct despite employees pushing authorities to start it; fire safety in place in new Kandivali hospital

On Saturday, Virar resident Lalita and Anil Logavi celebrated the first birthday of their son Aayush. But their joy was tempered; the celebrations brought back the tragic memory of Aayush’s twin sister who lost her life in the fire at Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) Hospital in Marol on December 17 last year. A year on, the Logavis have decided to keep her memory alive in their hearts.

“As parents, we have to remain composed for our son. Our daughter will always be a part of us, but we have consciously decided to never rake up the painful memories of what happened,” said Ms. Logavi. The twins were born at the hospital on December 14 and were shifted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit due to low weight. The baby girl was on ventilator support. When the massive fire broke out at the hospital, the ventilator stopped functioning. The hospital was filled with smoke, which caused suffocation in the premises. The twins were rescued and shifted to Holy Spirit Hospital, but the girl died a week later. She was one of the 13 victims who succumbed in the fire.

Ray of hope

For Andheri resident, Rukmini Yadav, the memory of her two-month-old daughter continues to be disturbing. “It was because of me that she was in the hospital,” said Ms. Yadav, who was admitted for the treatment of kidney stones when the fire broke out. Her daughter, born on October 15 last year, was taken to the hospital for breastfeeding. While Ms. Yadav was rescued, the infant succumbed in the fire. “We were to name her Sheetal. We were preparing for her naming ceremony,” said Rajesh Yadav, the father. The Yadavs are expecting another baby; Ms. Yadav is seven months pregnant. With the compensation that they received, the couple has purchased a small piece of land back home in Uttar Pradesh. “We want to secure the future of our child with the money we have,” said Mr. Yadav.

ESIC Hospital fire: a year on, the loss stings
 

Hospital defunct

The hospital continues to remain defunct since the incident. The employees have been pushing the authorities to start it as soon as possible. “They have assured us that it will be re-opened by June 2020. But the work is yet to start and meeting that deadline seems unlikely,” said Jodhraj Bairwar of the ESIC Nurses Association.

Sanjay Sinha, head of administration, said the exact duration of completion of the work cannot be estimated.

Fire safety

The employees have been sent to the ESIC Hospital in Kandivali, and a considerable patient load too is directed there. The Hindu visited the Kandivali hospital to see the fire preparedness at the building, a ground-plus-six-storey structure of which the sixth floor is still under construction.

The ground floor has 17 fire extinguishers, the second floor has 16 while the fourth floor has 10. The third, fifth and sixth floors have five extinguishers each. The building is equipped with a fire alarm system, water sprinklers as well as fire hose reels. The building also had fire response indicators but some looked non-functional. The staff said they had attended two mock drills at the hospitals and a lecture on fire safety was in October. The hospital’s medical superintendent said that since it is a new building, all the fire safety measures were in place.

When The Hindu visited the ESIC Hospital in Worli, which is run by the State government, it found that ground-plus-three storey structure had fire extinguishers on each floor. However, there were no fire alarms or fire hose reels that come in handy during an emergency. There were also no emergency exits. The staff members said they have not attended any mock drills recently but that there was a demonstration on fire safety once.

The hospital’s medical superintendent, Dr. Ganesh Jadhav, said they had refilled the fire extinguishers during the demonstration. “Our authorities are working to get more fire safety equipment at the hospital,” said Dr. Jadhav.

Medical director Sanjay Dhavale said a society will be formed in March 2020 to get more funds from the Central government. “We have been in touch with the fire department of the municipal corporation. The Kandivali hospital was constructed about four years ago by the central government and it had no issue of funds. We are now looking forward to installing such safety measures at the Worli hospital.”

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 4:40:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/esic-hospital-fire-a-year-on-the-loss-stings/article30324827.ece

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