Fire at Hyderabad government hospital's neonatal ICU exposes safety concerns, staff says

Partner Content Aug 13, 2019

After a narrow escape from the fire that broke out Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad, doctors and staff at the state-run hospital are now worried about their safety.

The incident took place at around 3 pm on August 8, the fire broke out in the post operative ward and neonatal ICU room located on the third floor of the main building. Fortunately no casualties were reported, however all the equipment has been gutted in the fire.

No fire safety equipment was available at the hospital, so the alarmed doctors and staff members called the fire department which rushed to the spot immediately to put out the fire before it spread to other areas. There is a fire hose right opposite the neonatal ICU in which the fire started, however, the staff at the hospital say that it has been defunct for many years.

Preliminary investigation revealed that a short-circuit could have caused the fire outbreak. However, the fire department is yet to determine the cause. 

A narrow escape

“Usually at least three babies are kept in this room. However, due to the ongoing doctor agitation against NMC Bill, there has been a shortage of staff. Hence, we kept the babies in the operation wing itself,” said a staff nurse to TNM, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“A new born baby who had been operated, was kept in the room for some time. However, we moved her at around 2 pm as the baby was the only one in the room and we felt it would be less of a hassle for the nurses and staff to walk around. We moved the baby to observation in a different ward, this decision saved the baby’s life,” she recollects. 

While the fire was able to be contained before it spread, the staff members are concerned.

“Not just the baby even the staff in it would have been charred to death. Are we supposed to work constant fear of a fire breakout. How can we work under such conditions?” questions the nurse.

While officials have stated that the building was equipped with all necessary fire safety equipment including fire extinguishers, the pipes connecting the fire hose as well as some of the fire extinguishers were stolen three years ago.

Resident Medical Doctor, Dr Jayakrishna, told TNM, “The entire building is extremely vulnerable, as there is no fire safety in any part of the building. A major fire mishap could kill many patients and doctors.”

Speaking to TNM, Superintendent of the hospital Dr Shravan, said “After I assumed the charge I wrote to the government four times, the latest being just a month ago. He lamented, “Before me, my predecessors also wrote, but received no response. The higher ups including Health Minister Eatala Rajender is aware of it.”

Gandhi Hospital accommodates hundreds of patients who come from different parts of the state. It is one of the biggest government hospitals in the state along with Osmania General Hospital and Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences.

 

This story was originally published on The News Minute and is reprinted here with permission. It can be viewed on https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/fire-hyderabad-govt-hospitals-neonatal-icu-exposes-safety-concerns-staff-says-107025

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