It is not wrong when people say that “a Government hospital can be located easily just by the odour it emanates”, said Dr Pravin Shingare H., Joint Director-Medical Education & Research, Government of Maharashtra.
It is not that hospitals in India do not “clean” their premises – Long stretches of corridors, multi-storey buildings, multiple wards, labs and other areas are periodically swept and mopped the traditional way every day. Yet, Deans of over 22 medical colleges and hospitals of Maharashtra rued over the pathetic cleaning and hygiene state of their premises and looked at Clean India Journal to help them find solutions to this burgeoning issue.
“We do not lack in the academics, expertise, knowledge or skills medically. We have the best of the doctors too. But where we basically lack is in the area of cleanliness. If only we are able to achieve the cleanliness standards with the required expertise, we can definitely perform as good as or even better than other class hospitals. In the present scenario, with such poor cleanliness, it would not be possible. Here is where, the Indian Cleaning Industry could help us with scientific inputs to maintain cleanliness. We do not have cleanliness experts in our hospitals now. For example, take sanitation; we have an undergraduate who is the sanitary inspector for the whole hospital like J.J. Hospital. There are some sanitary inspectors who come from the Class IV cadre. This is how the Government set up is! We expect a lot from the cleaning industry professionals, who can explain to us the modern technology of using equipment, chemicals, solutions and methodology. This will help us adopt newer techniques, as we are still using jhadoo and pocha. What is the kind of brush we need to use and how to use it, is something the cleaning industry can tell us,” added Dr Shingare.
Said Dr Dipti Dayanand Dongaonkar, Dean-General Medical College, Nagpur, “we have corridors running over 100 metres in each of the three storey’s of the building, 10-15 staircases, three major slopes at each level, 42 wards of over 5000sq. ft besides other areas which are cleaned by around 800 cleaning staff including the sweepers. Sickness, alcoholism, absenteeism and inefficiency are some of the reasons why we are unable to achieve the basic standards of cleanliness. The toilets are not worth mentioning. They are supposed to be cleaning it with at least phenyl, but is it actually being cleaned, I have my doubts. We do not have a separate cleaning department apart from security and how much will the medical officer monitor. It is not practically possible.
“The State Government is seriously considering mechanisation and outsourcing of cleaning of hospitals. Hence we are looking for solutions.”
Not just the cleaners but the visitors also add to the unclean and unhygienic surroundings. “The side walls of the staircases, commonly used as a spittoon, are permanently stained with paan. No amount of cleaning has helped remove these stains,” said Dr H.H. Jhadav, Superintendent of J.J. Hospital, Mumbai. “Why just the side walls, even the parapets in the verandas are a ghastly sight of paan stains,” added Dr Dipti.
“The experts in cleaning should visit us and demonstrate,” said Dr Jhadav.
Even if we are shown all these cleaning machines, “how do we understand, what is our requirement of mechanised cleaning? What kind of equipment is required, battery operated or electrically operated; what kind of maintenance is required and who will do it? If we can get a comparative chart of various equipment and it specifications & applications, it would be helpful,” suggested Dr Dipti.
“We have electrically operated cleaning equipment for our corridors. While cleaning, the wire goes floating on wet floor all along the corridor, which is not only risky but also cumbersome.
“Even so in the medical colleges, it is not possible to shift furniture or clean below tables. We need to know the right equipment.”
“In medical colleges,” said Dr A.D. Shinde, Dean Dr Vaishampayan Memorial Government Medical College, Solapur, “the cleanliness problem is not as much it is of sanitation. Each department has toilets and in all around 15-20 toilets which are not maintained.
“At the hospital, it is even worse as it is being used by visitors and general public coming to the hospital. Besides, the corridors and wards are cleaned by around 250 staff using the jhadoo-pocha method, which is not effective. We need mechanisation for cleaning effectively with limited staff. The mechanics of the cleaning machine can be well supervised by the sanitary inspectors in the hospital,” he added.