On paper, Advanced Medicare and Research Institute’s
(AMRI) vision is/was to be cherished as the best place to come for care and the
best place to work. The ‘corporate
governance
’ section, among other things, on the hospital’s
website says this: AMRI is committed to meeting the highest
standards of ethical behaviour and appropriate business conduct in everything
we do, every day. Sound corporate governance principles are critical to helping
ensure that we perform with integrity and excellence in all aspects of our
operations. What’s more, they are vital to retaining the trust and respect of investors
and other stakeholders and interested parties, including the individuals we
serve, employers, doctors and other healthcare professionals, suppliers,
government officials, employees and the general public.

Mere words, those. So far, four days after a
tragedy, the hospital authorities have put up a names list of the dead on its
website. While media reports claim that the toll is over 91, the list
had only 42 names until the filing of this story – 02:50 pm, December 11. Is it
because AMRI announced Rs 2 lakh compensation for each deceased? Or is it that
its public relations team is thinking that a lesser number of declared
casualties would do damage control? Fact is, this is so far the most severe
case of failed corporate as well as individual responsibility.

The hospital authorities have been accused of
violating fire-safety norms – an act of negligence that led to the death of at least
90 people, patients and staff including. They have also been charged of running
a radiology department without mandatory radiation safety clearances from the
Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB). Thankfully, following the fire, there
was no release of radiation from the devices containing radioactive material. That
could have worsened the situation by several fatal degrees.

Further, while the hospital’s website claims that it
is the first hospital in eastern India to be accredited by the National
Accreditation Board of Hospitals (NABH), its accreditation under the NABH was
held in abeyance after authorities discovered the absence of radiation safety
clearances during an inspection a month ago, in November. NABH also found that
the hospital lacked a proper evacuation mechanism in case of emergency. There
was a shortage of fire safety officials and basic fire-extinguishing equipment.
The hospital also could not provide NABH with a proper plan for fire
emergency.

Another point to be noted here is that the hospital had
fought a major fire about three years ago, though there were no casualties at
that time.

Even post cancellation of accreditation, the
hospital that meets the highest standards
of ethical behaviour
continued to run and waited for this latest human tragedy
to happen. A case of negligence, among others, has been filed against the ones
who perform with integrity and excellence
in all aspects of their operations
. Six directors of AMRI have already been
sent to police custody till December 20. Meanwhile, the West Bengal government
remained non-committal on whether a fresh license would be issued to the
hospital management to resume operations.