At the Thane mental hospital, which houses 807 patients, so far 17 patients and 22 staffers have been afflicted by the coronavirus disease
As many As 21 patients and 50 staffers at state-run four Mental Hospitals of Maharashtra got infected with Covid-19 till date. The four hospitals in the state are at Thane, Nagpur, Pune and Ratnagiri. The BJP has filed a petition with the Human Rights Commission accusing the state government of completely ignoring these hospitals.
The hospital management has suspended group therapy and called off family visits to prevent the virus from spreading further. The health officials also mentioned that maintaining social distance and making the mentally ill patients wear a mask is difficult. Restrictions on travel during the lockdown, meanwhile, have also forced a large number of patients, declared fit for discharge, to continue to wait at the facilities inducing restlessness in some, they said.
At the Thane mental hospital, which houses 807 patients, so far 17 patients and 22 staffers have been afflicted by the coronavirus disease. In May, a female staffer had succumbed to the virus, while two patients died in June.
According to staffers, at least 40 patients share a ward at the hospital, sleeping within a foot of one another, some on mattresses others on the floor, which makes maintaining three-foot distance impossible.
Medical superintendent Dr Sanjay Bodade said, “Serious patients of psychosis, schizophrenia and bipolar disorders do not understand how or why to wear a mask. They keep throwing it away.”
Dr Sadhana Tayade, the director of Directorate of Health Services, said there was a risk that mentally ill patients can swallow hand sanitisers if dispensers are installed in the wards, hence a caretaker makes them wash hands before every meal.
At Nagpur mental hospital, a patient and eight staffers have been infected with the coronavirus while, at Pune and Ratnagiri, one patient and at least 20 staffers and two patients respectively have tested positive so far.
At least 110 patients at the Thane facility are fit to go home, records show, but their families either live in a containment zone or do not have means to travel since local trains allow only government employees to travel. “We have been calling the family members of these patients. But since March we are hearing the same excuse,” superintendent Bodade said.
Meanwhile, BJP leader Kirit Somaiya said, “We have filed a petition with the Human Rights Commission for the justice of these poor souls. The government has failed to look after these patients and tackle the pandemic. There is no proper testing done in these hospitals and these patients are deliberately ignored.”