Omicron threat: Bring back to full gear Ahmedabad’s 1155 bed VS Hospital to help poor

Joint statement by Jay Sheth, Dr Nishith Shah, Rupa Chinai and Brijesh Chinai, Board Members, Chinai Maternity and Sarabhai General Hospitals, Ahmedabad:

We, the independent and permanent members of the Board of Management, Chinai Maternity and Sarabhai General Hospitals (VSH), Ahmedabad, representing the donor families, wish to place the following concerns to the public and media of Ahmedabad on account of our holding these positions on a public Board:

The 1155 bed VSH was a fully functioning institution providing quality and affordable medical care to the poorest citizens of Ahmedabad. The hospitals had well equipped multi-speciality departments and was manned by a trained, permanent staff that had a strong commitment to patient care and a sense of belonging to this institution.  In combine, the staff and the independent VSH Board — a partnership between AMC Corporators and citizen representatives — worked to provide a unique model of quality and affordable health services that proved its worth over eight decades of “glorious service” to this city, since its establishment in 1930 by Sardar Patel and Gandhiji.

Unfortunately this process was reversed by the AMC Corporators on the VSH Board of Management who moved to close down the VSH and transferred its beds, equipment and staff to the “for medical tourism”, profit oriented SVP Hospital. 

This was strongly opposed by us, who make up almost half the nine member Board of Management, who represent the Chinai and Sarabhai Trusts.  We had advised that while we have no issues with the new SVP Hospital, we felt that with basic repairs the VSH could continue to provide for the needs of the poor, while SVP catered to a different segment of society. The matter has been contested since 2012 and is currently pending before the Gujarat High Court.

During the past two years of the Covid pandemic, like all other Administrations across the country, the Ahmedabad administration has also been under enormous pressure to ensure public health services provide access, quality and affordable critical care to the poorest of citizens.  

Joining us in these assertions were the media and public of Ahmedabad as also the orders of the Gujarat High Court, resulting in partial reopening of services at VSH.

We have repeatedly advised the VS Board to bring back their entire permanent staff that have been transferred out to other institutions. Instead the Board has been making contractual appointments and bringing in untrained staff who have no commitment to public service. We have also demand the restoration of 1155 beds and equipment that was transferred to SVP Hospital. This too remains pending, while efforts are ongoing to sell off equipment from departments such as the Cath Lab, where charges were lower than that at SVP or private hospitals.

All this was done even while then Board Chairperson publicly declared that “not even a pin will be taken from VSH to SVP”.

With Covid again rearing its head worldwide with the emergence of the Omicron strain of the virus, there are huge consequences ahead for those suffering from co-morbidities who will require hospitalisation. Apart from the State run Civil Hospital, there are no other hospitals other than VSH, which have the capacity to assist the poor in their time of critical need.  Hence we strongly urge that VSH with its 1155 beds and equipment be restored and its permanent staff be brought back to full gear. This will also require the restoration of all powers to the VSH Board of Management which is being consistently undermined by the AMC-MET, and which is an extraneous Trust as far as the VSH is concerned.

We urge the support of the Ahmedabad media and citizens in helping our current administration understand the seriousness of what it needs to do while we still have time to improve public health institutions before the next health crisis hits us.

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