SINCE UT Advisor Manoj Parida announced on Wednesday via his new platform of choice Twitter that all government doctors in the city involved in the “corona war” will be accommodated for free at the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (CITC)-run Parkview hotel, only one government doctor from the city has availed free accommodation there. Other healthcare workers, lower down in the hierarchy of medical services, are unsure whether the facility is available to them.
Who is allowed to avail rooms?
After Advisor Parida tweeted regarding the facility, deeming it “a small step to help these warriors”, many questioned why the quarantine facility at the hotel was only offered to doctors, following which Parida clarified the facility was available to doctors as well as nurses from government hospitals who have been advised to self-quarantine.
Arun Gupta, home-cum-health principal secretary for the UT, as well as chairperson for CITCO, clarifies that the accommodation will be available to all healthcare workers who have been recommended by their respective institute to quarantine themselves at home after completing their shift with COVID-19 patients. “There is a whole block with about 40 rooms that has been reserved at the hotel for all healthcare staff who needs it, and currently one doctor from GMSH-16 is residing in a room there to quarantine himself,” Gupta says.
Hospitals unclear on where to quarantine staff
“We know about the policy and that the administration has offered to house medical staff who have been told to quarantine at the hotel, but we are currently unsure as to who will be sent there and who won’t,” says Uttam Thakur, president of the Association of Resident Doctors at the Post- Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER). Thakur adds that meetings are scheduled at the hospital to discuss which staff will be provided quarantine facilities and where in the city. “There is no clear plan as of now, but we will formulate one after which we can advise people to quarantine themselves at the hotel.”
As of now, quarantine facilities have been made available to exposed PGIMER staff in guest houses, sarais and a few private wards without the hospital. However, nursing staff quarantined at the private wards have complained about the lack of resources and hygienic services available to them while quarantined in the wards. “They don’t even clean our sheets here regularly, and no one comes to clean because of a lack of PPE for cleaning staff,” said a nurse who was quarantined in a private ward at the hospital after treating a COVID-19 patient.
Quarantine facilities have also been made available exclusively for doctors and nurses at the National Institute for Nursing Education (NINE) at PGIMER. The nodal office for quarantine facilities stated that doctors and nurses will be sent to Parkview after the rooms at NINE fill up.
Home quarantine a threat to the family
For many, who do not have the privilege of a separate quarantine facility after finishing their hours at the hospital, going back home means potentially exposing one’s family to the disease. “Doctors and all still have bigger houses they live in, whereas some of us are living in rented two- room sets with our families in far-flung corners of the city. I, for one, have been crashing at a friend’s place who is stuck out of town. It is hard to quarantine yourself in a small space, and how do you explain to your child that they have to stay away from you,” says a hospital attendant from PGIMER.
“There is no clarity or protocol yet for quarantine facilities, especially for sanitation staff, attendants and technicians. Firstly, we don’t even get proper protective equipment, and then if we are asked to quarantine at home, it is too dangerous for us and our families. We have demanded we get more facilities,” says PGIMER Non-Faculty Employees’ Union leader Ashwani Munjal.
Quarantine facilities elsewhere
While CITCO-run Parkview hotel is the best the UT Administration has to offer to its doctors and nurses, in Mumbai doctors and nurses on COVID duty have been offered accommodations in the iconic and luxurious Taj Mahal Palace hotel. In Delhi, doctors from government hospitals have been offered rooms at the Lalit Hotel as well as Hotel Leela in East Delhi.
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