Updated: May 24, 2021 8:53:26 pm
Nurses working in Puducherry’s Indira Gandhi Government General Hospital have alleged they are being provided poor-quality Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and being denied paid leaves even after they contract Covid-19. On Sunday, at a memorial event for healthcare workers who passed away due to coronavirus, slogans were raised against the Puducherry government, the Health Secretary, and the Director of Public Health.
The Union Territory of Puducherry on Sunday registered 1,448 fresh Covid-19 cases and 34 deaths. Seven healthcare workers have died in the past few weeks, including Niranjana (40), nurse at the Indira Gandhi hospital, on May 22.
On behalf of the Confederation of Health Employees Association, the employee union of government healthcare staff, a memorial event for the workers was held on Sunday, where members claimed the government had been turning a blind eye to their requests for over a year. “The government is ignoring people who are risking their lives for society,” the association claimed.
The Indira Gandhi hospital is the largest government hospital in Puducheery, employing around 300 nurses, and this is not the first time the staff here has protested.
On May 13, the association wrote a letter to the Health Secretary, claiming that a staff who tested positive for Covid-19 was not granted quarantined leave, and was instead informed his leaves would be deducted.
On Saturday, Bakiyalakshmi, the head nurse of the hospital, released an audio, alleging the government had failed to protect its healthcare workers by providing poor-quality kits.
“We don’t want any aid, bonus, or allowance from the government, we just want quality PPE kits. It’s been more than a month since I sent letters to the Health Secretary and Governor, but no action has been taken. Our nurses are unable to wear these kits for more than an hour, as they experience breathing difficulties due to their poor quality. We were silent all this time because we don’t want out hospital’s image to be spoiled.
I personally got sponsors and provided quality PPE kits to nurses. How many days can we ask the sponsor? We just need a quality PPE kit for nurses to work for six hours safely. I don’t know how many more lives we are going to lose, our workers are facing depression because of this issue,” she claimed in the clip.
Lieutenant Governor Dr.Tamilisai Soundararajan, however, brushed aside the claim. Tamilisai said she had enquired with the officers and there had been no discrimination in the supply of PPE kits. “I and the Health Secretary wore the same PPE kit when we visited Covid-19 patients. Still, if there are any complaints, I have instructed officials to address them,” she said.
Health dept is taking all measures to protect all health staff particularly Quality PPE kits used universally throughout Puducherry both in Pvt & gov https://t.co/8BPIOzAVQr & Health sec wore the same kits used by staff during rounds.Still if any grievances ordered to attend pic.twitter.com/JkAtV5Lhdx
— Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan (@DrTamilisaiGuv) May 24, 2021
Speaking to Indianexpress.com, Puducherry Health Secretary Dr. T Arun said they had convened a meeting with the nurses to convince them that the kits were of the best available quality.
“Throughout the Union Territory, the same quality of PPE has been distributed. It is of good quality and is from the Government of India. I wore that thrice in the last two weeks to visit Covid-19 wards. Nurses working in other hospitals and primary health care centres also wear the same PPE. The statement by the nurses is an emotional outburst. They have lost their dear ones and believe that the PPE kit is the reason for it, which is absolutely not true.”