Sister act throws hospital into tizzy

The nurses strike at Asian Heart Institute came to an end on Saturday, but most nurses plan to resign as soon as they get their original degree certificates back from the hospital

It took two members of Parliament from Kerala and four days to end the strike by 230 nurses from Asian Heart Institute on Saturday. Kerala MPs P T Thomas and Anto Antony flew to Mumbai on Friday night after two nurses were reportedly lathi charged by policemen trying to control crowds outside the hospital located at Bandra-Kurla Complex.

Dr Ramakanth Panda

Since most of the striking nurses hail from Kerala, they got in touch with ministers from their hometown to resolve the issue. PT Thomas, MP from Idukki, the hometown of Beena Baby, a nurse who allegedly committed suicide due to the harassment by superiors at the hospital said, "These nurses are working away from home at meagre salaries and these hospitals tie them down with inhuman bonds and even take away their original education certificates." Nurses were also protesting a policy where they were supposed to sign a two-year bond with the hospital for which duration they submitted their original certificates.

Though Vice Chairman and Cardio Vascular Thoracic Surgeon Dr Ramakanth Panda admitted that the number of surgeries in the last few days  has been limited due to the absence of nurses to administer post-operative care, he said, "We were always ready to give the original certificates back to the nurses." He added that 25 nurses had rejoined even before the strike was called off.

But the nurses have no intention of going back to work, citing rude behaviour from doctors and harassed working conditions. One of the striking nurses said, "Nobody wants to work with this hospital anymore. The management boasted about their so-called connections but the truth has triumphed now. Once we get our certificates back, we will all resign."

But the patients were the ones who suffered the most. While hospital authorities maintained that a total of 70 patients are admitted and receiving round-the-clock service, when SMD contacted the hospital  posing as a patient, seeking immediate admission, hospital officials said no new patients were being admitted since Wednesday, due to the strike.

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