Daily sweepers sacked, dust gathers in civic hospitals

After the BMC fired many daily wage workers who step in for the irregular sweeping staff, piles of trash can be seen accumulating in hospitals like Nair and Sion, exposing doctors and patients to disease and stench

During your next visit to a civic hospital, expect to be welcomed by heaps of trash. Hospitals in the city run by the BMC are reportedly reeling from an acute shortage of sweepers, both on its staff and daily wage earners. An existing crisis was aggravated when many of the latter were terminated by the civic agency recently.

Dirty Picture: Piles of garbage can be seen accumulating at Nair
Hospital, where 46 daily wage sweepers were sacked earlier this month

The worst affected by the shortage is Nair hospital, where garbage can be found lying unattended inside the hospital's OPD building, exposing patients and their kin to infection and stench. The corridor connecting wards are filthy.

Nair hospital has a total of 294 posts for sweepers, of which 45 are vacant at present. Owing to frequent absenteeism, the hospital would frequently rope in its 46 daily wage sweepers, all of whom were sacked on March 11, in addition to 75 multipurpose staffers.

A nurse from the hospital explained, "For the last two days, the ward hasn't been cleaned. Besides sweeping the wards, they are also responsible for cleaning washrooms and bedpans used by patients. Patients are having a tough time." Doctors too are facing the brunt, as the resident doctors' quarters have not been cleaned for several days now.

When contacted, Dr Shivkumar Kolle, president of Nair Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD), said, "We have already intimated the authorities about the problems we are facing. Our hostels haven't been cleaned and the doctors are at risk of falling sick. One of our doctors has already taken ill, and his condition has forced him to go on leave."

Confirming the shortage of sweepers, Dr M K Sanjana, acting dean of Nair hospital, said, "We have already had meetings on the issue. We have asked the time keeper to prioritise the work. The existing staff will be first sent to important places like the ICU, NICU, and operation theatres, followed by the wards and other areas. We have to work with the staff that we have and we are doing our best to keep the hospital clean."
Dr Sandhya Kamat, dean of Sion hospital, said, "We are facing a shortage but we have made adjustments with the existing staffers."

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