September 10, 2015 1:45:40 am
A 31-year-old nurse, attached with Sewri TB hospital, succumbed to multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) Wednesday, after undergoing treatment for five months at the hospital’s women’s ward.
This is the 12th death of a hospital employee due to the infectious disease since 2011.
According to hospital sources, nurse Rani (surname withheld on family’s request) was suffering from “extremely low immunity” and contracted extrapulmonary TB earlier this year. While she pursued private treatment and hid about her disease at the hospital, she had to seek admission when her condition worsened on March 18.
Rani was put on second line treatment at the Sewri hospital, but doctors treating her said her condition did not improve. “She was very weak,” said a doctor. On Wednesday, Rani succumbed to MDR TB after months-long battle against the disease. Data available from the hospital shows 32 nurses and ward boys are currently undergoing treatment for TB at the hospital while 11, excluding Rani, have succumbed in the middle of the treatment cycle in the last four years.
Realising that staffers are not willing to work fearing infection risk inside the 1,200-bed hospital premises, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) started quarterly screening of all its nurses and Class IV employees for TB infection. Since 2011, when the screening programme first began, 68 staffers have been diagnosed with TB or its deadlier drug resistant variant. Of these, 25 have completely cured, 32 are still on treatment and 12 have died.
“We are providing N-95 masks to all staffers as their basic defence. Health lectures are also given to sensitise them about the importance of proper diet. Additionally, all employees are given high protein and calorie supplements to build up their immunity,” said medical superintendent Dr Rajendra Nanaware.
Under the free supplement, staffers are provided boiled egg, milk or omelet during the day.
Several staffers, however, complained that the food quality was poor and they avoided eating it.
The hospital currently has a sanctioned strength of 1,300 staffers, of which close to 400 posts are vacant. “No one is willing to work at the hospital. We have taken several measures in the past to improve the working conditions but the fear continues to persist,” Nanaware said, adding those who joined duty would demand a transfer to other civic-run hospitals within few months of posting.
The BMC currently allows four months’ paid leave to staffers contracting TB and extends it to nine months for drug-resistant patients. A proposal is in the pipeline with the civic body that will allow employees to take a year’s leave for treatment of TB.
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