Mumbai: Pregnant professor alleges harassment, says she quit to save baby

Dr Rajshree Katke, medical superintendent of Mumbai's biggest govt maternity hospital, Cama and Albless, has once again been accused of causing mental, emotional stress to a junior

In 2014, 300-odd nurses, ward boys and cleaning staff went on flash strike to protest against the behaviour of medical superintendent Dr Rajashri Katake at Cama & Albless Hospital in south Mumbai. PIC/SURESH K.K.

Cama Hospital, the biggest government-run maternity hospital in Mumbai, has found itself in the soup after a pregnant assistant professor alleged that the medical superintendent harassed her, and that this resulted in her experiencing pre-term labour pains, forcing her to quit her job. However, the college and Grant Medical College (GMC) have refuted the claims.

Dr Priyanka Pohekar had joined Cama and Albless Hospital on October 1, as an assistant professor in the department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Shortly after she joined, she claimed, medical superintendent Dr Rajshree Katke started humiliating her. She alleged that Dr Katke did it frequently, which took a toll on her, leading to extreme mental and emotional stress.

This then allegedly caused complications in her pregnancy, and to save her unborn child, she was forced to quit the job.

On August 31, she filed a complaint with the head of the department and dean of GMC. A copy of the complaint
is with mid-day

“I was under so much stress that I went into pre-term labour and had to take a continuous high dose of medication to save my baby. I was forced to leave my job in the middle of my term,” she stated in her complaint letter. 

“Dr Rajshree Katke constantly levelled false and baseless allegations against me regarding patients’ care without any evidence, to unnecessarily harass and dominate me.”

Pohekar alleged that she was forcibly sent to health camps repeatedly in spite of giving in writing her inability to do such camps frequently. Also, she wasn’t given any place in the hospital to rest.

She also claimed in the letter that other doctors had also left from the hospital due to similar harassment by Dr Katke. Pohekar has now shifted to Nagpur and is staying with her parents.

When mid-day called her up, she said she didn’t want to comment, saying she had been told to rest and not to take any stress. 

“I have left the hospital because of the harassment. I don’t want any more complications or stress, as I am
pregnant. I wanted to inform the authorities before I leave so that no one else faces the same problem,” she added.

Previous fiasco

This is not the first time the hospital’s medical superintendent has been accused of bad behaviour.

In December 2014, 300 staffers had called for an indefinite strike to protest against the “mental torture and abuse” allegedly inflicted upon them by Dr Rajshree Katke. “We are treated as her personal servants, and she often abused and insulted us. But last night (December 1), Dr Katke made us look like thieves. The incident crushed our self-respect, and we all were questioned for a ring that was later found in her own laptop bag,” Dhanaji Borule, one of the ward boys present during the incident, had told mid-day after the strike call.

The other side

The hospital, however, refuted Dr Priyanka Pohekar’s claims, saying she has levelled these allegations to cover up lack of efficiency in her work.

Dr Katke said, “I have no connection with her. She wasn’t practising under me. All claims she made are false. In fact, we had received complaints against her from patients about not taking care of them properly. This is just to tarnish the image of the hospital.”

Dean of GMC Dr TP Lahane said,“We have inquired into the matter and taken the statements of other doctors, who have refuted Pohekar’s claims.”

The list of complaints:

Falsely accused of not taking proper care of patients.

Humiliated in front of staffers with the statement, “Tuzya dokyat bhusa bharla aahe ka?”(Is your head filled with garbage?)

Juniors or lecturers not allowed to help her despite her being pregnant.

Not allowed to take emergency calls.

Repeatedly sent on health camps despite providing a letter about her inability to do the same.

Not given a place in the hospital to rest on duty.

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