About 300 junior doctors are protesting at Telangana’s nodal hospital for COVID-19 for the past three days demanding better facilities and more staff following an attack on their colleagues by a deceased patient’s family members.
The state-run Gandhi Hospital was converted into an exclusive facility for treating coronavirus patients as the number of cases began to rise.
Highlighting the heavy load of patients at the hospital, the doctors said their primary demand is decentralising cases/patients coming to the hospital. With patients coming from across districts in Telangana and inadequate staff, the doctors said they are struggling to handle the crisis.
“We have eight doctors to look after 120 patients in ICU. It takes us 40 minutes to search for an oxygen support if we want to shift a patient to critical care from any ward. The entire state’s COVID-19 patients are brought here. How can we handle that? Why can’t they be kept in hospitals in districts?” Priya, one of the protesting doctors, told News18.
It all started on Tuesday late night when junior doctors and healthcare staff were attacked by a COVID-19 victim’s family members.
Hit by plastic chairs and iron stools, a few of them had to lock themselves inside a room for protection. A nurse suffered a minor hip injury, according to the doctors.
“The patient was a 55-year old man and had severe respiratory issues. We had advised him to not leave the bed, he still removed his CPAP mask (used for breathing) and went to the washroom. He collapsed and died,” said Dr Naresh Gurram.
Two persons have been arrested in the case, but that has not yet helped pacify the doctors.
This is second such incident at Gandhi hospital. Following the first attack, the Hyderabad City Police Commissioner had deployed forces at the facility to avoid recurrence of any such untoward incidents.
On Wednesday, about 200 doctors walked out of the hospital, took to the streets and demanded that Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao address their demands.
Apart from asking for increased security at the hospital, their other demands also include better quality protective gear for healthcare workers, proper healthcare centres across the state and appointment of a junior doctor in the advisory committee of the state Health Ministry.
“At present, it is taking three hours for us to shift any patient to ICU. Doctors on duty need to go and check which patient’s condition is stable and can be moved out, so that the next patient can come in. The ICU is almost full in the hospital,” another doctor said.
The hospital was under scanner, two days ago, after an alleged chat between a journalist who died of the virus and and his brother went viral. The scribe had written to his brother saying there were no doctors inside ICU, no proper care.
The administration has, however, said that all government hospitals are equipped to handle the crisis.
According to officials, Gandhi Hospital has a capacity to handle 2,000 patients. There are about 450 patients in Gandhi as on Thursday – all of whom are being treated for coronavirus.
Health Minister Eatala Rajender who met the agitating doctors on Thursday, put out a tweet soon after saying all issues have been resolved and doctors have called off the strike.
However, the hospital’s Junior Doctors Association said its demands have not been met and the strike will continue. Meanwhile, senior professors and faculty members are taking care of the patients admitted at the hospital.