New Delhi: It took well over 24 hours for Pinky Gautam, a nursing orderly at the Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, to get admitted to a hospital in the national capital after she found out that she is COVID-19 positive.
Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself acknowledging and praising the efforts that Pinky and her fellow health workers have been putting in to fight the pandemic, she had to wait for one whole day before before being given a hospital bed and treatment. She was exposed to the deadly virus while attending to a patient at GTB hospital’s ICU ward.
"Prompt admission was suggested as soon as we got to know of her status and she has now been taken to Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital," GTB Hospital's Medical Director, Dr Sunil Kumar, said.
Pinky has been working as a nursing orderly at the GTB Hospital for the past six years. She says sometime at the beginning of the month, a patient was admitted to the ICU where Pinky was put on duty to take care of personal hygiene of patients and keep the ward clean.
"There was a woman in her 50s in the ICU who had been put on ventilator. Pinky was attending to her. She had some symptoms like fever, but her blood sample was taken for testing only after nine or 10 days. The same day that her sample was sent, the patient died. Meanwhile, the sample came out positive," said DK Gautam, Pinky's husband who also works as a nurse orderly in the same hospital.
Immediately, Pinky got herself tested. The first test came out negative. But soon after, she developed fever.
"She had regular fever, around 102 - 103 degrees. Again, on 19 April, we got her sample tested for coronavirus. On Wednesday, around 11pm, we received the report that she is positive," Gautam says. It was only on Thursday evening when Pinky was admitted to Rajiv Gandhi hospital.
Gautam's own reports for the virus have come out negative, but their three young children, the youngest aged 13 years, are yet to be be tested for Covid-19.
"There is nothing to worry about. The health staff all around have brought many sick people back to health. I will also be treated as soon as I get into a hospital," Pinky had told News18 over the phone hours before she was finally started receiving treatment.
Her breathing was audibly laboured at the time and she was still suffering from high fever, her husband said. Pinky's case may not be the only one of its kind. She says one of her colleagues' reports also turned out Covid-19 positive a few days ago.
"It was during the afternoon on a working day when that nurse orderly found she was Covid-19 positive. She was asked to immediately report to the hospital. From over 12 hours that nurse orderly languished outside the hospital premises, thirsty and hungry. It was only well past midnight that she was given a bed," Gautam said.
"If this is the state of health workers, I can only imagine what poor people must be going through. We are on contractual duties with the hospital but we're still a part of the staff, no? My wife contracted this disease while working. Why did it take so much time to allot a hospital bed to her?" Gautam said.
"The Delhi government says that they'll give Rs 1 crore to those who die in the line of duty. But why can't they ensure that nobody dies from such apathy in the first place? Why don't they spend all that money in helping health workers such as us in recovering, so that we can get back to our duties and help other people?"