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THE STRIKE by 400 resident doctors at the state-run J J Hospital in Byculla entered its third day Monday. Sources said a series of surgeries and procedures at the hospital had to be postponed. A call for protest was made on Saturday after four relatives of a deceased patient allegedly assaulted two resident doctors, and damaged property at the hospital The four were arrested later.
The doctors have been demanding a “safe environment” at their workplace, including additional security guards for wards and a close check on the passes issued to visitors.
Later in the day, after a meeting between Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) and officials from the Directorate Medical Education and Research (DMER), the state government promised additional 25 guards to man the wards of the hospital. “The government has promised us 25 more guards. However, we have asked for at least 200 guards…. the current figure is 89. Also, there was no mention about increasing security in other government hospitals,” said MARD member Prakhar Jain, who added that the strike will continue.
Jain said the DMER has failed to issue any work order to install alarm system in the hospital. “We will meet Health Minister Girish Mahajan tomorrow to discuss our demands. They will be conducting a fresh survey to reflect upon our demands.”
On Monday evening, the hospital administration conducted a survey of the entire hospital to gauge the additional number of guards required. Sarang Donarkar, president of MARD, said the wards were guarded by only 89 guards as opposed to the promised 130.
Meanwhile, 250 doctors of the Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital in Sion joined the strike on Monday.
At J J hospital, associate professors, lecturers and interns were attending to patients in the Intensive Care Units (ICUs), Casualty Care Units (CCUs) and casualty wards.
The striking doctors also set up parallel Out Patient Department (OPD) counters outside the hospital to attend to the patients. “We want to tell the authorities that we are ready to work, provided there is a safe environment….,” said Shashank Bhardwaj, a resident doctor.
Relatives of patients claimed surgeries at the hospital had been delayed. Vishnu Pawar, a relative of a patient, said, ‘My nephew will have to undergo two surgeries… but we have been told that it will happen once the strike ends…”
Patients further said that entry to the hospital has been restricted due to the tension.
Vigendra Sontakke, whose wife was admitted three days ago, said, “The guards spend a lot of time checking our ID cards to allow us entry. If we step out of the hospital to buy food or medicine, they do not allow us back inside without the cards.”