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Sunday, March 10, 2013

City sees 600 blazes every month, has only 133 beds for burn victims

Mumbai: Three major fire incidents in a month that claimed seven lives and left more than 20 injured, have turned the spotlight on the dismal state of burns' care facilities in Mumbai. For a city that witnesses more than 600 fire incidents every month, both major and minor, there are just about 133 beds for the victims. 

    If not for the single-largest 50-bed private facility in Airoli, the number of beds would dip further to 85. Over the years, the bed count for burns' patients has remained critical with the private sector shying away from offering or even setting up any such facility. Experts said there is an urgent need for an equal number of beds to be added to the pool so as to boost the survival of patients who have sustained more than 50% burns. 
    Following the very recent LPG tanker explosion at Mankhurd, 15 patients with varying degrees of burns were rushed to the civic-run Sion Hospital. Only four patients with 100% burns could be accommodated at the isolated burns' unit ICU for want of vacant beds. Six other patients were given first-aid and covered in sterile sheets but admitted in a makeshift ward for mass casualty. They were later shifted to the dedicated burns ward after other patients got
discharged. Dr Meena Kumar, the hospital's head of surgery, said there was a need for more beds as public hospitals are always packed to capacity. 
    The 15-bed burns' unit at Sion Hospital and 25-bed unit at Kasturba Hospital are almost always fully occupied, with the result that the patient load often spills over to the gen
eral wards. This could prove detrimental for a burns' patient, who needs a sterile environment more than anything else. 
    Dr Sunil Keswani, secretary of National Burns Centre in Airoli and a cosmetic surgeon, called the scarcity of burns' facilities a complex social problem. "Most burns' victims are from lower socio-economic 
strata, and therefore better burns' management has remained low priority for the state." Keswani further said that new policies are required to deal with the cost factor in burns treatment that can go up to Rs 7 lakh for over 60% burns. 
    Dr Madhuri Gore, who started the country's first skin back at Sion Hospital, said that 
a more structured approach must be adopted. 
    "There is a need to divide patients according to severity of burns and that way the patient load can be taken away from the tertiary care hospitals." Keswani cautioned that in the event of a mass burns incident, the city may drastically fall short of beds. 

BIG BLAZES IN RECENT PAST 
March 4, 2013 
Seven people were killed and nine injured after an LPG tanker crashed into safety pillars along the Sion-Panvel highway 
November 26, 2011 A fire broke out at Sara Sahara Market in Crawford Market, Yara Shopping Complex and spread to Manish Market, reducing over 500 shops to ashes 
June 21, 2012 Fire engulfed Mantralaya. Sensitive documents were destroyed and two died 
March 4, 2011 A major fire destroyed Garib Nagar, which adjoins Behrampada slum outside Bandra (East) railway station. Eleven people were injured as the inferno claimed 2,000 shanties


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