Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. (Express photo)
Acting on an online campaign launched by a city-based woman, the Maharashtra government has ordered St George’s hospital in South Mumbai to upgrade its morgue and appoint only qualified staff to conduct autopsies.
The hospital authorities said following the government order they now plan to construct a new morgue there. Renu Kapoor, a member of Colaba Advanced Locality Management (ALM), a citizen’s group, had put up a petition on Change.org in April to highlight the poor condition of the morgue in the hospital.
“10 bodies stacked one on top of the other in a dimly lit, tiny room with no windows and a leaky roof! That’s the morgue in Mumbai’s St George’s hospital. In the Maximum city, the underprivileged don’t even have dignity in death. Complete apathy for the dead,” her petition addressed to the chief minister and family welfare minister, said. Her petition said she saw the “horrible condition” of the morgue when her driver Manoj died in April last year.
“The post-mortems are performed by untrained staff. That’s why I started this petition to revamp the morgue and post-mortem center at the St George’s hospital immediately,” the petition said. Kapoor’s online campaign struck a chord with Mumbai’s citizens. Dr. Pravin Shingare, Head, Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER), on June 11 ordered the hospital authorities to appoint only qualified doctors to conduct autopsies and upgrade the facilities at the morgue. The officials called up Kapoor and held a meeting with her.
“What I liked is that the government authorities not only took cognizance of my plea but also called me to discuss how can it be done. And I was quite happy that they ordered time-bound implementation,” Kapoor told PTI. The DMER order mentioned that the financial grant to start the repair and electrification of the morgue by the PWD will be given on a priority basis. It also instructed the hospital to begin the redevelopment work by this month end.
“Ensure that autopsies are conducted only in the presence of a trained, qualified doctor. From 18 June, strict action will be taken against any unskilled, untrained, unqualified person found performing an autopsy. The person will be suspended,” the order said. “Action will also be taken if any doctor is found making a Class-4 employee perform an autopsy,” it added.
When contacted, Dr. Madhukar Gaikwad, superintendent of St George hospital confirmed to have received the order from the DMER and said that they were now constructing a new morgue.
“We thought that it would be better to have an entirely new morgue, besides renovating this one. Therefore, we have identified a place and started the process to come up construct a new morgue. We are trying hard to build it as soon as possible,” he said.