Private hospital operators in Pune in Maharashtra have said a large number of nurses, mostly from Kerala, were resigning amid the coronavirus pandemic, in the process putting extreme pressure on combat efforts.
They said the issue was raised in a meeting with the district and civic administration on Saturday, with the latter suggesting nurses be told that Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) was in force which allowed hospital managements to reject "non-genuine" resignations.
"Since special trains for migrants started, we are seeing at least seven nurses putting in their papers per day. Some 100 nurses, mostly from Kerala, have already left," said Dr H K Sale, executive director at Noble Hospital, one of the private COVID-19 facilities in Maharashtra's second largest city.
"The issue was raised in the meeting with district officials on Saturday. I have instructed not to accept the resignations during this time when we are fighting a pandemic, that too at a time when the state government has regulated 80 per cent of beds in private hospitals," he added.
Kale said the state government should give incentives to staff at private facilities to keep them motivated.
Noble Hospital's chief nursing officer Trupti Nanda said the facility had some 450 nurses, of which 80-90 per cent are from Kerala, and 100 nurses have gone back since the outbreak began.
"The main concern for them is safety. Moreover, they believe the COVID-19 situation in Kerala is better. So the profession versus panic scenario is playing out. We have spoken to their families as well to assure them there is nothing to worry here," she added.
Sanjay Pathare, Director, Medical Services, Ruby Hall Clinic said the phenomenon of nurses resigning was common and motivation, safety and care were the key.
"In Saturday's meeting, the district administration said hospitals should tell nurses and paramedical staff that MESMA was in force and so they cannot resign. The state government should give us in writing that during such times of pandemic, resignations, barring genuine ones, cannot be accepted," Pathare said.
District Collector Naval Kishore Ram said the issue was discussed in Saturday's meeting and the need was to give nurses, paramedics, sanitation and housekeeping staff etc in the frontline a sense of security.