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Times of India
16 February 2011
By Clara Lewis
Mumbai, India

BMC Keen on Blood Bank at Sion Hospital
In a bid to placate Sion Hospital doctors, the civic administration said they would move a proposal for the expansion of the medical facility along with the construction of the central Metro Blood Bank on the premises.

Though the BMC is keen on the blood bank, senior doctors from the hospital are opposed to it as the space that is being eyed for the project–just across the road from the hospital building–was originally reserved for its own expansion. Currently, it provides home for its emergency staff.

According to the doctors, the blood bank would translate into handing over the plot to the central AIDS authority, NACO. This, the doctors said, would not only affect the hospital’s expansion but its medical college could also lose the Medical Council of India recognition for lack of proper infrastructure. They cited the case of Seth G S Medical College, attached to KEM Hospital, which was served a de–recognition notice by the MCI last year for its failure to upgrade the infrastructure. The notice was withdrawn after the BMC gave a concrete proposal to expand KEM’s infrastructure.

On Tuesday, senior National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) officials visited the site belonging to the civic hospital across the road. "The blood bank will require only 11% of the 80,000 sq–ft land. We can have a plan in which the blood bank can come up and simultaneously, the hospital’s expansion can also be carried out.

The two can co–exist and are not mutually exclusive," said Manisha Mhaiskar, additional municipal commissioner, in–charge of public health. However, the two projects might not be conducted at the same time owing to the civic body’s financial condition. "Whichever gets funding first will take off the ground first," said Mhaiskar, indicating that the expansion might not happen in near future.

The BMC also informed state health minister Suresh Shetty on Tuesday that a proposal would be moved before the standing committee to obtain an in–principle approval for the blood bank. Only after the BMC house gives the nod will the government forward it to the Centre. The paperwork has to be done before March 31. Shetty said in case the BMC could not provide the land, the state would offer the space for the blood bank on the premises of ESIS Hospital in Mulund, a 15–minute drive from the Thane civic body–run Rajiv Gandhi Medical College and a 30–minute drive from Sion hospital.

The estimated cost of the Metro Blood Bank is Rs 340 crore for five years. When the Sion Hospital’s expansion plan was drafted, the cost was estimated at Rs 315 crore.

Sources warned that the civic administration was not keen on the hospital expansion plan. "The joint development proposal is an eye–wash. The BMC is yet to complete the auditorium building it started working on in 1998. Even the Out Patients Department building, which was taken up in 2001, has suffered the same fate. Even today, plans are being discussed or prepared on how the expansion should be done," said a source.

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