Updated: May 27, 2020 3:42:19 am
Staffers at the KEM Hospital staged a protest Tuesday after a 45-year-old class III employee, with suspected coronavirus symptoms, died. So far,18 health workers belonging to classes III and IV have died due to the virus, Municipal Mazdoor Union said.
The protest began at 7 am and continued till noon until the hospital dean held a meeting with protesting staffers and assured them accommodation and treatment if they fell ill. The 45-year-old’s body was handed over to his family Tuesday evening.
According to the Mazdoor Union, the Class III staffer was a contractual employee and cleaned wards at the hospital since 2010. For the last few days, he was posted on duty at ward 20, which was assigned for Covid-19 patients. “He fell ill on May 20 and requested for leave. But he was neither tested for Covid-19 nor given leave. He continued to work in the hospital with fever and body pain,” Pradeep Narkar of Municipal Mazdoor Union said.
On May 24, when his condition deteriorated and he became complained of breathlessness, his family rushed him from their Thane home to KEM hospital, but he died en route.
“He was suffering from high-grade fever, loss of taste, and body pain,” Narkar said. While staffers are supposed to be tested when they develop symptoms, he was not tested for four days, he added.
Despite being a suspected Covid-19 patient, the staffer’s body was kept in KEM mortuary for nearly two days, protesters said. Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Chahal had earlier instructed all hospitals to seal and dispose of a body in 30 minutes. “We have appointed class IV employees, whose job is to only seal and pack bodies of Covid-19 or suspected patients,” he said.
Meanwhile, KEM Hospital dean, Dr Hemant Deshmukh, held a meeting with the representatives of the workers’ union Tuesday and assured to provide treatment at nearby Mahatma Gandhi hospital if any of them fell ill.
A class IV employee, posted at the hospital’s operation theatre, meanwhile, said there was fear among the staffers in handling Covid-19 cases because of increasing numbers of infections among health workers.
The union estimates over 300 classes III and IV employees have been infected by the virus, the maximum number of cases from Sion hospital. In KEM hospital, eight workers in the mortuary have, so far, tested positive for coronavirus. “Those who work in Covid-19 wards, go back home and put their families at risk. We have demanded that we must be allowed to live on the campus,” the staffer said. He added that there is a shortage of staffers since those above 55 years of age have been posted to safer locations and several others were under quarantine.
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