A few months ago, Nitin Bhawarkar, a second year student of Symbiosis Institute of Telecom Management (SITM) collapsed in campus and later died. A year ago, Rohit Kumar from IIT Kharagpur also died after falling from a cycle rickshaw at the gates of his campus. At some other b-schools mild epidemics happen – some are reported, some not. Acidity and gastro problems and in the present season, viral fever, are not one bit uncommon in b-schools.
All this leads to one question – are our b-schools equipped to respond to all kinds of medical emergencies? Writing on brochures and websites that medical facilities are ‘available’ is one thing and offering quick and efficient medical service in times of crisis, is quite another. The haunting question – whether both Nitin and Rohit died to inefficient medical services will probably always remain unanswered.
Nitin Kumar Bhawarkar, collapsed right in class, while making a presentation. According to SITM authorities, medical help did come by and after administration of medical aid, Nitin was driven to a hospital a distance away. But he was declared dead at admission. According to reports in the newspapers and sources, it took almost 30 minutes for medical help to reach Nitin and even an ambulance was not available immediately. The nearest hospital was (and is) more than 10-15 kilometres away.
Students of SITM, and SIBM and SIMC which are on the same campus, protested against the inefficient medical treatment administered to Nitin. They wore black clothes and demanded that an inquiry be held in the incident, besides bettering of medical facilities. The protests went on for a while and according to reports, was called off only when Symbiosis director Vidya Yerawadekar addressed the students and assured that their demands would be looked into.
One would expect that the students’ outburst to this incident would have lingered on for a few days day but that was not the case. When this correspondent visited the campus only a few days after the incident, life was back to routine. There was none of the stress on the campus, which the newspapers had reported. Nitin was definitely not the topic of discussion and none of the students wanted to speak on the issue. After making me wait for a long time and tossing me from one student to another, I was put on to the registrar who said that the situation was under control and an investigation was taking place, without wanting to divulge anything more.
Still on the campus, one student from SITM said that the protests were mainly spearheaded by SIBM students so I should ask there. But SIBM students also refused to speak. The reluctance to speak and do something about the death seemed baffling. There was not even a whisper, when there were allegedly loud protests only a few days ago.
None of the faculty or other staff wanted to talk about the issue, it seemed as if Nitins case had never happened. All this after Nitin Bhawarkar’s Facebook homepage was flooded with condolence messages right after the death, which included comments by students on the poor medical attention given to Nitin.
SITM authorities say they did their best to save Nitin. Dr. Rajiv Yeravdekar, Director, Symbiosis Centre of Health Care (SCHC) & Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, Symbiosis International University told Pagalguy that in fact there was no delay in getting medical help to Nitin. There are comprehensive healthcare facilities to all the students and staff members on all the campuses of Symbiosis. When the duty doctor at Lavale campus received intimation regarding a problem the SITM student had, he rushed with the ambulance on site. Since, the SCHC is located on the same campus and the ambulance is also available on the same campus, there was a time lag of only 5 to 8 minutes between receipt of the call and the doctor rushing to provide medical aid. So there was no delay. “
Rohit Kumar’s death at IIT Kharagpur was met with the same fate. Students protested and finally the then director had to resign.
But have Nitin’s and Rohit’s deaths made any difference to the medical facilities available at b-schools?
In fact, why blame only SITM? All b-schools which have campuses in the back of beyond, boast of exemplary medical facilities – be it a stand-by ambulance, a campus doctor or a medical unit in place for 24 hours – but how many of these work and are available in times of crisis are anybody’s guess. Thankfully, tragic medical urgencies do not happen everyday in b-schools but then that also means that response to crisis situations are rarely checked.
Students of IIMC told Pagalguy that while there is a medical centre and medical staff on stand-by at all times on the campus, the response to a medical emergency is yet to be tested since thankfully, none have happened so far.
IIM Shillong also has a vehicle kept ready at all times to take students to near-by medical care in times of emergency. Some months ago, at least 20-25 students and staff of IIM Shillong suffered from typhoid, all at one go. Said IIM Shillong director Prof. Ashoke Datta: “We did everything we could to control the typhoid. Everyone was vaccinated. We succeeded but when the b-school is at such a location like Shillong, these issues happen. We had to make sure we could control it before it spread any further.”
Shillong now has a new state-of-the-art hospital Neigrihms which serves the needs of the locals besides that of IIM Shillong students but it is a few kilometres away from the institute.
With XLRI Jamshedpur which also has a huge, sprawling campus, two doctors visit the campus everyday besides there is a medical centre that looks after all the needs. XLRI director Fr E Abraham said that there is one doctor on campus all the time for any kind of emergency. Besides that, the medical unit is always there for any kind of treatment.
Rules change a bit when it comes to b-schools within city limits. For instance, Mumbai Business School (MBS) does not have advanced medical help on campus but there are tie-ups with doctors and a nursing homes in the vicinity. Dr Sunil Rai, executive director of MBS said that when the b-school is within city limits, good medical help comes faster and better. Two of the doctors’ clinics are bang opposite the b-school.
Same is the case with Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) which has a tie-up with Nanavati hospital which is only a few metres away. But NMIMS also has a doctor on campus besides regularly conducting medical camps for the students.
But then, even SITM has an impressive list of medical facilities. The SCHC conducts annual Health check-ups of students and staff, day care & Out Patient Department (OPD) services, Health Education, Medical Insurance Scheme & Promotive Health Care Programmes inclusive of a gymnasium, aerobics studio, yogashala with meditation hall and a swimming pool. Recreational and wellness facilities are also promoted through the University Sports Board (USB).
In fact many b-schools conduct regular medical camps and encourage yoga and other methods of keeping the body fit and mind active but these are only preventive measures.
The clinic which Mumbai Business School has a tie-up with, located opposite the school
Youth and illness
It is a known fact that these days, those in their 20s are the biggest victims of chronic and critical illnesses. Cancer, TB, heart problems, muscle and back problems and issues like like acidity and gastroenteritis are also on the rise with this age group. Lifestyle, irregular eating and sleeping habits, lack of proper exercise and stress and peer pressure are the drivers of these ailments among youngsters these days.
And this probably makes medical care and attention an absolute need at b-schools? Surely, when parents hive off huge sums of money for their ward’s higher education and pack him or her off to a large campus away from urban settings, the medical facilities available are among the critical issues discussed before admission.
But can one really reign in such issues when the campuses are spread across acres and the number of students runs to several hundreds?
Dr JP Jadwani, MD and Honorary doctor at many hospitals in Mumbai said that b-schools tend to keep part-time doctors or get doctors on campus only when there is an emergency. The doctor should be on call at all times in management institutes, especially if they are located away from city limits. Often, the doctor is a call away and attending to his work at his clinic or hospital when a call is made for a critical case. In critical cases, urgent medical attention is the most important thing.
Dr Jadwani also said that even if doctors are on campus 24 hours, they should regularly upgrade themselves with the latest in medical science and keep themselves abreast with new technologies. Since there is no medical emergency on a daily basis in a b-school, doctors might take it easy and not find the urgency to learn something new, explained Dr Jadwani.
The doctor also warned that the lifestyle of students and young people in general, has to undergo a drastic change. “A little control on few simple issues might help. Sleeping at odd hours, eating at odd times, lack of sleep, eating too much of junk and fried food, too much of alcohol & tobacco consumption should be controlled.”
Besides a full time doctor, a full time psycho analysis of students must be carried out once a week. Not all students are able to open up about their problems and discuss the matters of stress with their peer group of faculty or parents back home. If there is a forum for students to share their problems on a regular basis, there are lesser chances of pent-up feelings expressing themselves in various ailments, added Dr Jadwani.
For those b-schools which have a flattering list of medical facilities listed on their website and brochures but have little of it actually, it is time to do something. If not anything, at least they need to make sure that the facilities are updated and available within a few minutes of a crisis. Medical emergencies do not knock on the door and ask for entry. They come in the dead of the night or in the case of Nitin Bhawarkar, during the day and during a lecture.