5 Jun 2012
For over two months now, the city's 1,500–odd nursing homes are functioning illegally, following a State government directive that made a noobjection certificate from the fire brigade mandatory for all such centres and hospitals in Maharashtra.
The nursing homes and hospitals are required to renew their licences by March 31 every year, and this time around, the civic body has refused to renew the licences without the fire brigade NoC.
This is a blow to the patients, as their insurance claims will not be processed. Dr Kishore Adyanthaya, president, Association of Medical Consultants said, "The status is all the nursing homes are illegal establishments. No insurance company will allow the claims of patients who are treated at unregistered nursing homes."
To get the NoC from the fire department, the nursing homes and hospitals are required to put in place fire-resistant paint on furniture, fire-proof electrical wiring, alarms, smoke detectors, etc. They are also required to have independent access and water storage facilities, which the nursing home owners say cannot be implemented in a city such as Mumbai.
A doctor who runs a nursing home in Malad said, "Unlike hospitals, most of the nursing homes are housed in residential buildings. How are we supposed to create an independent access? The rule says nursing homes should have an underground water tank with storage capacity of one lakh litres. Is it practical to create such facility in a residential building?"
The State government directive was issued after 89 people, mostly patients, were killed in a fire at AMRI Hospital in Kolkata in December last year. The inquiry into the incident revealed the hospital lacked adequate firefighting equipment.
The BMC officials said a compromise formula was being worked out. "The fire department norms are being reworked. Later this week, the doctors are scheduled to meet the health minister," a civic body official said.
Unlike hospitals, the nursing homes are housed in residential buildings, and find the fire safety norms difficult to implement