COVID-19 impact: 'Neglected' Mumbai nurses seek help of BMC boss

Updated: Jun 02, 2020, 07:33 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

Several organisations together write to Iqbal Singh Chahal, bringing to his notice the plight of healthcare workers who contract COVID-19

Nurses have to wait for up to nine hours to get admitted to COVID hospitals, the organisations said in the letter to BMC chief. Representation pic/Suresh Karkera
Nurses have to wait for up to nine hours to get admitted to COVID hospitals, the organisations said in the letter to BMC chief. Representation pic/Suresh Karkera

The nursing community has written to BMC chief Iqbal Singh Chahal, bringing to his notice the plight of the nurses who contracted the novel Coronavirus while treating other patients and are now being ignored by their own hospitals and authorities concerned.

Several organisations for nurses under Jan Swasthya Abhiyan on Monday raised their issues, which they claim were not addressed by the previous civic chief, Praveen Pardeshi. The letter, among several things, pointed to the lack of dedicated facilities for healthcare workers who have to wait six-nine hours to secure admission in a COVID hospital, "with no access to food or water, making them feel neglected and unwanted." The organisations claimed that the second swab test of infected healthcare workers isn't done even though ICMR protocol allows it, and also complained about unhygienic facilities and poor quality of care at COVID Care Centres (CCCs).

'Food lacks nutrition'
Sujata (name changed), a 35-year-old nurse at a private hospital in Bandra, tested positive last month. However, due to paucity of vacant beds, the hospital sent her to a CCC nearby. She said she was admitted on May 23 with symptoms — sore throat and cough — that still persist due to lack of proper treatment or nutrition.

"The meals we get are not nutritious. Despite several requests, they have still not given us milk, and multivitamins to boost our immunity. The doctors don't come around often either. We took care of COVID-19 patients when we were fit, but now when we need help, we are being ignored."

No pay for quarantine
The organisations also raised the issue of some private hospitals deducting paid leaves and salaries of nurses for the days they were kept in quarantine. They have also demanded PPE kits and N95 masks for healthcare workers in non-COVID wards as well, since many regular patients have later tested positive.

"With Mumbai seeing a rapid rise in infections, the distinction between COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 health settings is getting increasingly blurred," the letter stated. They also demand that hospitals take adequate precautions for infection control and triaging so that health workers are not at risk of contracting COVID-19.

Hospitals targeting nurses
The letter also highlighted that nurses, who are bringing to public notice the lapses in treatment and care, are being targeted by the hospital administration. The organisations demanded that someone from the nursing community should be included in the COVID-19 task force to ensure that their concerns are fairly represented.

Several calls to additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani and civic health department's executive health officer Padmaja Keskar for comment went unanswered.

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