Chandigarh: PGI nurses’ strike cripples health services, hits patients most

A 24-hour strike by more than 2,000 nurses of Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) caused inconvenience to the patients at the institute on Friday

Written by Adil Akhzer | Chandigarh | Published:February 27, 2016 8:46 am
Nurses of PGI were on mass leave during their protest at PGIMER in Chandigarh on Friday, February 26 2016. (Express Photo by Sahil Walia) Nurses of PGI were on mass leave during their protest at PGIMER in Chandigarh on Friday, February 26 2016. (Express Photo by Sahil Walia)

A 24-hour strike by more than 2,000 nurses of Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) caused inconvenience to the patients at the institute on Friday. While curtailing of OPD registration timings left many visiting patients dejected after they failed to get the registration cards after 10 am, the absence of nurses was felt across the institute for the entire day.

Shamsher Singh, a resident of Malerkolta in Punjab, said that he spent more than Rs 2,500 to reach PGI to get the appointment for his daughter. “I was not aware that there is a strike today by the nurses. I reached around 10.10 am and was not given the registration card,” Singh told Chandigarh Newsline. “It was the duty of PGI to inform the public earlier about this. Other than losing money, I lost my time as well. Now I have to go back without getting my work done.”

Jaiprakash, one of the attendants who came from Narnaul district close to Rajasthan border, was left dejected after he was informed that registration was closed after 9.30 am at the new OPD. While he kept on requesting the officials at the registration counter to issue a card, he was forcibly taken out by the PGI security guards after he tried to enter the registration counter. “I left home at 4 am and reached here after 10 am. I came after travelling a long distance. I want to show my son to the doctor and it is urgent,” he said.

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At the Nehru hospital, it was found that several patients were themselves performing the job usually done by the nursing staff. While one of the patients was himself adjusting the IV drip, a woman was putting the urine bag to her husband herself. Her husband, she said, recently underwent a spine surgery.
Varinder Singh, a Bathinda resident whose father suffered a brain haemorrhage, said that it was difficult to find nurse staff at the ward. “We are not able to find any nurse here. This is causing inconvenience,” Singh told Chandigarh Newsline at the emergency ward.

The daycare centre where patients undergo chemotherapy remained closed. “It is not expected from PGI at least. It is surprising that the centre has been closed,” said one of the patients outside the centre. The patients then went to the Nehru hospital’s radiography department.

Residents performed additional duties

The overburdened resident doctors of PGI took charge in the absence of the nurses. From doing the computer entries to managing the IV fluid feeds, the residents supervised the students of the Nursing Institute of Nursing Education ( NINE) who were deputed at the institute by the administration.
Dr Pulkit Rastogi, president of the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), PGI, told Chandigarh Newsline that the residents tried their best to help the patients in the absence of the nurses. “We performed the job of nurses as well, including drug labelling and entering the data into the computer system,” he said. “Yes, the attention to the patients suffered because today we did those works which are not done by the resident doctors.”

Asked whether the deployment from the NINE helped, he said, “They are not professionals and residents supervised them.”

One of the residents, who was posted in one of hospital emergencies on Friday, said that deputing students from NINE didn’t help much. “We have to take care of everything as we cannot rely on them. They are not completely trained,” said the resident.

PGI thanks staff

THE PGI in a statement hailed the efforts of the faculty, residents and other staff for their “active role and contribution in performing patient care activities despite the handicap of unavailability of regular nursing staff”.

The statement issued by the PGI said that the administration had made arrangements and circulated contingency plan to all the heads of the departments and administrative staff in advance to mitigate the effect of absence of nursing staff. “More than 467 nursing students and 30 clinical instructors from National Institute of Nursing Education (NINE) were deployed in all the patient care areas to provide patient care services,” it said.

As per the details, till 1 pm, close to100 new patients were registered in emergency while another 100 patients were admitted in the indoor areas of the hospital. “Though elective operations were rescheduled, yet emergency operations and deliveries were performed till 4 pm. As many as 12 emergency surgeries and 13 cardiac procedures were performed,” the statement said.

Only 5,314 patients treated

# Against the visit of around 8,000 patients at OPD on a daily basis, only 5,314 patients were treated in different OPDs on Friday

# Planned and routine surgeries not conducted

# Day care centre remained closed