NOT ONLY have they been forced to move out of their homes, 82 nurses from Bhatia hospital are unable to even collect their belongings from their flats at different residential buildings as, in the last few days, their neighbours have reportedly blocked them from entering the premises for fear they may be “carrying the infection”. Eight residential buildings on Grant Road have refused entry to nurses, imposing on them that they cannot enter the society if they are going to work.
Bhatia hospital had to convert its sixth-floor ward into residential quarters to accommodate some nurses, while others were assigned rooms at a hotel and buildings nearby as they continue to work at Covid wards.
Kerala native Reenu Elizabeth Koshi (23) moved to Mumbai three months ago to work at Bhatia hospital. A month ago, she was forced to move out of her flat after residents allegedly started harassing her. “Whenever I returned from hospital after duty, they would shut gates. We had to plead to enter. One day, the society asked me to produce my identification card; when I did, they said it’s a duplicate and refused entry,” she said.
The hospital had taken on rent, leased out and purchased different flats at eight buildings for its nursing staff. In the last few weeks, hospital authorities were forced to move them all to other locations after local residents did not allow them to stay on in the buildings.
Nurse Aishwarya Thale had to move to another building 20 days ago when the apartment building she was staying at allegedly refused entry to her. “We would take all precautions, take a bath and change before returning home. The building first prevented the garbage collector from collecting our garbage, and then they did not let us use the lift,” she said.
The hospital arranged for another rented flat for her and she decided to move in for some days. “I left everything in that flat. Now when I try and collect my stuff from there, the society refuses entry,” she said, adding, “there is no respect for health workers on the ground.”
“We too leave our houses to serve the community. We are risking our lives too,” says Sweety Mandot, who manages operations at the hospital. She said the hospital decided to keep nurses in the hospital premises and hotel for some days until local residents “calmed down”.
The hospital is paying Rs 33,000 per day to the hotel, where the nurses are staying now, for a month for 10 rooms.
“A few days ago, we started writing to all societies to allow nurses to enter. But they refused. We asked to let them take their personal belongings, they refused that too,” Mandot said.
Mandot added that the society insisted that the nurses had to have tested negative before entering the building, and demanded reports. “We even offered counselling for Covid-19, but it is difficult to convince them,” she said.
The hospital has approached D-ward officer and the police in Tardeo for help. According to Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani, several private hospitals have stressed on the need for accommodation for their staff because they cannot travel long distances or face problems in their localities. “We have assured to provide shelter in nearby areas,” he said.
Dr R B Dastur, medical director in the hospital, said at least eight nurses had quit. “They are facing discrimination, and finding it difficult to work in this environment,” he said.
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