Nurse strike still on, no end in sight
Entering its second day, the deadlock between 250 striking nurses and hospital management at Bandra's Asian Heart Institute showed no sign of abating yesterday.
The nurses at the private hospital are protesting against the alleged misbehaviour of authorities and an unfair contract system in place at the hospital, claiming that their colleague Beena Baby (see pic) took her life on Tuesday, as she was unable to cope with the harassment at work.
While the Santacruz police investigated her mysterious death, operations at Asian Heart suffered serious setbacks, with patients and relatives bearing the brunt of the nurses' outrage.
"My sister underwent an orthopaedic surgery yesterday and we want her to spend a few days in hospital for post-operative care. But the doctors are insisting on a discharge. I think they are sending their patients home because they don't have enough nurses," said Jay Singh.
Another relative, however, said, "There are very few nurses on duty. But the doctors are taking good care of the patients."
Hospital authorities issued a statement claiming that 50 doctors were working round the clock to pitch in for the absent nurses.
Negotiations between the hospital management and the nurses continued yesterday, but no resolution was reached.
Dr Vijay D'Silva, medical director, Asian Heart Institute, said, "We have invited the nurses to collect their original certificates and resume duty immediately. It is very unfortunate that they are continuing with their protest instead of caring for the patients."
Jibin, a nurse who is participating in the strike, said, "The management promised us yesterday that they would return our documents if we resumed work. But when we came today, they withheld the certificates. They asked us to resume work, threatening the female nurses that they would not be allowed to use the hostel facilities. We are tired of the constant harassment. We want to quit as soon as we get our certificates back."
'Beena's death not caused by hanging'
Meanwhile, the autopsy of Beena's body has revealed that the cause of death was not hanging, as had been previously assumed, but rather a visible complete wire ligature mark on her neck. Beena's body had been found on Tuesday morning, hanging from a ceiling fan in the staff quarters at Santacruz.
Doctors from Cooper hospital who performed the autopsy, did not find a suspension point or an inverted V-shaped mark -- which are the telltale signs of hanging -- on Beena's body. Owing to this discrepancy, the experts refrained from confirming the cause of death, and chose to send the viscera for chemical analysis.
Commenting on the autopsy findings, Madhukar Chaudhary, senior inspector, Santacruz police station, said, "The deceased had locked the door from inside. Her roommates, who broke open the door found her hanging from her ceiling, rushed her to the hospital, where she was declared dead. We have ruled out any foul play. And are investigating the causes that drove her to take her life."