Two days after their colleague was assaulted at Hyderabad’s Gandhi Hospital — Telangana’s only Covid-19 treatment institute — the morale of doctors at the hospital is very low.
Nearly three months after they started working in the Covid-19 wards on the 6th and 7th floor of the hospital, the doctors are disillusioned and scared.
“If the iron stool thrown at the duty doctor (who was assaulted on Tuesday) had hit his head, it could have been a fatal injury. How can one work like that? Everyone is now scared of working in the Covid wards. On one hand, we face the risk of catching the infection, while on the other hand, there is a threat from family members of those who succumb to coronavirus,” a PG doctor told The Indian Express.
The PG doctor is participating in a strike at Gandhi Hospital, but along with six others, is also ensuring that all suspected Covid patients brought in ambulances reach Covid-19 wards.
Another doctor said, “I signed up to treat Covid patients but I don’t want to become the target if someone dies. I can understand the anger of a deceased’s family members, but the government should take that into consideration and provide adequate protection to us.”
“We are facing a dilemma… Should we go back to our duties despite the attack on our colleague, or should we continue with the protest so that everyone gets better protection? The fact that the government has not responded so far about ensuring our safety forces us to continue the strike. Let me remind you we take turns to work and treat the Covid patients (despite the strike),’’ a member of the Telangana Doctors Association said.
A Gandhi Hospital official said that there were 22 incidents of people abusing, spitting or throwing water bottles at medical staff, and at least 14 instances of patients kicking away food or trying to escape from the Covid wards. “We filed a police compliant in two cases where the doctors were assaulted. We did not file police complaints in the other incidents because either the doctors and nurses chose not to complain or we found that it was a tantrum for which the patient apologised immediately,” the official said.
On Wednesday, the body of a 32-year-old person who succumbed to Covid-19 could not be located for nearly 10 hours. Doctors pointed to the chaos at the hospital.
“The person’s body was found just a few minutes before it was to be buried. There was a mix-up in identification of bodies… This is happening because there is too much pressure on the staff of Gandhi Hospital and Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation to handle all the Covid death cases. The number of deaths is increasing daily and we are not equipped nor do we have enough staff to handle it,” Dr K Vishnu of the Telangana Junior Doctors Association said.
“The Covid doctors at Gandhi Hospital are under tremendous stress and pressure. Between May 4 and May 10, the number of Covid cases in the state was below 15, but it then started rising and now we are getting at least 150 new positive cases every day. It puts a lot of pressure on the doctors and nurses and other medical staff involved in treating them. The quality of PPEs given to them is not of good quality due to which they are already apprehensive. On top of that they have to deal with the ire of patients and their relatives. For how long can doctors handle this stress and go on?” Vishnu said.
On June 10, 191 new cases and 8 deaths were reported in the state.
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