KEM Hospital in Parel is set to become one of the first public health facilities to start a centre for survivors of sexual abuse and acid attacks.
The 400-sq m centre — which will include counselling facilities and a two-bed clinic — will have a team of forensic experts, gynecologists, paediatricians, and psychiatrists. It will later be expanded into a 1,400-sq ft ward that will offer security and anonymity to survivors.
The proposal to set up the centre was recently approved by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s health department. Dr Harish Pathak, head of forensic department at KEM Hospital, said that he had been working on the proposal for four years.
“We have been treating victims of sexual abuse since the past 12 years. However, the hospital and number of patients dependent on it, has increased multifold. We noticed the number of difficulties sexual abuse and acid attack victims face navigating and availing treatment through crowded wards of the hospital while being accompanied by the police. We, therefore, decided that there has to be a one-stop centre for them,” said Dr Pathak.
While the hospital treats over 200 cases of sexual abuse every year, there are no separate queues or wards for them. Patients are generally brought to the hospital by police officers and after an initial check-up in the casualty ward, they are transferred to the common gynaecology ward. If the patients come to the hospital on their own, they talk to the medico-legal team in the common counselling area.
“We realised there is an urgent need to reduce the number of interventions by different departments while dealing with victims. The centre, equipped with the latest technology, will have gynaecologists, forensic experts, and psychiatrists visiting the patient rather than her having to go to different departments,” said Dr Ravindra Deokar, associate professor, forensic department.
Deokar added that survivors will be provided basic amenities like fresh clothing, a monitored diet, and additional legal aid and advice if needed by the family.
“Dr Avinash Supe, dean, KEM Hospital, has also started work on a specialised ward for abuse victims where they can be admitted rather than being the subject of discussion in general wards,” Dr Pathak said.