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Hospitals Directed To Conduct Fire Audit By June 8: Delhi Minister

Hospitals

Following the deaths of six newborns in a neonatal hospital fire, the Delhi government has directed all state-run and private hospitals to complete a fire audit and turn in a compliance report by June 8, according to a statement made by Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj on Monday.

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According to Mr. Bharadwaj, a case has been filed against the owner of the hospital in the Vivek Vihar neighborhood of east Delhi, who is also operating a second nursing home “illegally” in Paschimpuri.

In order to talk about the fire at the medical center, he had called a meeting.

Initially, police had said seven newborns were killed in the blaze but after the autopsy, it was found that one of the babies had died hours before the fire broke out.

Mr Bharadwaj said it had been learnt that oxygen refilling was being carried out at the hospital, and added that it would be looked into whether the facility was doing it on its own or some other agency was involved.

He stressed that it is illegal for a hospital to have a refilling system since it can lead to fire.

“On April 24, we issued directions to all hospitals for fire preparedness. On May 8, we asked them to conduct a fire audit. Now, we have asked all private and Delhi government-run hospitals to complete a fire audit and submit a compliance report by June 8 to the health department,” he told reporters.

The hospitals have also been asked to conduct an audit of the electrical system.

“In summer, the power load increases, which can lead to short circuits. We have also asked hospitals to carry out an audit of their electrical system to ensure that it can withstand the load,” Bharadwaj added.

The minister said they have also asked all chief district medical officers (CDMOs) to conduct random inspections of nursing homes and hospitals in their districts.

Talking about the Vivek Vihar hospital, he said that the hospital was functioning “illegally” with 12 beds as against the five beds it had permission for.

“It has been alleged that oxygen refilling was carried out at the hospital in violation of the norms and that will be looked into. The hospital’s registration certificate was valid till March 31 and they had applied for renewal. It was issued a deficiency memo as some documents were missing,” he added.

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Bharadwaj said that a surprise inspection was carried out at the medical facility and some deficiencies were found, following which a case was also registered.

“The owner was also running another nursing home illegally at Paschimpuri and a case was registered against him. Both the cases are in trial. One is ongoing at Tis Hazari Court and another at Karkardooma Court. We hope that verdict will come in both cases soon,” he said.

He stressed that strict action would be taken against those involved in “illegally” running extra beds at the hospital.

Bharadwaj also clarified that the Delhi Fire Service had no record of issuing any NOC to the Vivek Vihar hospital since the height of the building was nine metres and according to rules such buildings do not require a fire NOC.

“Now, we will include a checklist of systems that will be required while issuing a registration certificate. These will include automatic smoke detection systems, fire extinguishers and water sprinklers in case of a fire,” he added.

The minister also said two nurses and five neighbours rescued some babies without worrying about their lives.

“They did not worry about their safety. We will recommend their names for bravery awards,” he added.

The revenue department has been asked to expedite the process of compensation to the families of the babies killed and injured in the fire, Bharadwaj said.

The meeting at the Delhi Secretariat, where health department officials were present, also discussed the ongoing heatwave conditions.

The private neonatal hospital in Vivek Vihar where six newborns died and five were injured in the blaze was operating despite the expiry of its licence. It also did not have qualified doctors and no clearance from the fire department, police said on Sunday.

Police have arrested Dr Naveen Khichi, the hospital’s owner, and Dr Aaksh — who was on duty at the time of the fire that took place on Saturday night.

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