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May, 27

Jaslok, one of India’s oldest hospitals, readies for newer challenges 

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For one of the oldest tertiary care hospitals in the country, Mumbai’s Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre has built on its learnings from the Covid-19 pandemic and now has a separate infectious diseases facility, to be prepared for similar challenges.

The facility has 70 beds including 36 ICUs, Jaslok Chief Executive Jitendra Haryan told businessline, of the new additions in the 50-year-old hospital, as it invests in “futuristic infrastructure” and new technology.

Like hospitals around the world, hospitals in Mumbai too had to think on their feet during the pandemic as staff fell ill and institutions were closed to quarantine and disinfect. And this is a situation hospitals want to be prepared for, as scientists caution against more pandemics.

Today, the 350-bed Jaslok is focused on renovation efforts and is undertaking this with resources raised internally, through its trustees or private donors.

A charitable trust hospital, Jaslok was inaugurated by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, five decades ago (July 6, 1973). At that point, hospitals were single speciality institutions, nursing homes, and so on, says Haryan. Jaslok founders Seth Lokoomal Chanrai and wife Jasotibai’s vision to build a multispeciality hospital benchmarked to international standards was carried forth by Shantilal Jamnadas Mehta, a surgeon.

Jaslok has since seen its share of headlines, including being at the heart of takeover talks, as reported some years ago. Malaysia’s IHH Berhad was reportedly interested in the hospital. IHH is the group that acquired the Fortis chain of hospitals, among others. But that talk has since died down. 

Closed to PEs

Despite being among the oldest players in healthcare, Jaslok has to walk a fine line in funding its renovation, and cannot tap into deep-pocketed private equity (PE) firms looking to invest in healthcare. “That gate (PE funding) is always closed for us,” Haryan said, since they are a charitable trust hospital.

And that is a key challenge the hospital has to contend with, as it sets out to invest in staff and new technology to be able to compete with private hospitals, without having their kind of access to funds, he explains. Healthcare institutions also have to deal with the churn of skilled staff and rising costs, among other things, and the case is no different for Jaslok. The hospital is also exploring new technology, for instance, how artificial healthcare, machine learning, etc, can be leveraged, he said.

As a charitable trust hospital, they are mandated to provide subsidised treatment for 20 per cent of the beds. Haryan also urges people to take complete health insurance to cover their treatments. Presently, about 20 percent of people have individual insurances, about 45 percent pay out-of-pocket and the rest are either covered by their companies or are international patients, he says, of their patient profile.

Meanwhile, the healthcare sector itself is witnessing larger hospitals manage or takeover smaller institutions or spread to other cities. But for Jaslok, located on an arterial road in Mumbai, there are no plans to spread its wings beyond the financial capital, says its CEO, at least for now. 





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