Covid patient care suffers in Thiruvananthapuram MCH as nodal officers resign

South India

The strike followed suspension of a doctor and two head nurses following discharge of a patient with maggot-infested wounds last week. 

Covid patients care in Thiruvananthapuram Medical College hospital was hit on Saturday, October 3, with a section of doctors and nurses going on strike in protest against the suspension of a doctor and two head nurses in connection with maggot infestation of a patient.

The strike started with a boycott of the out-patient duty in the morning culminated in the en masse resignation of covid nodal officers in the Medical College hospital. The Kerala Government Medical College Teachers Association (KGMCTA), which called the strike, has asked nodal officers in other medical colleges also to resign.

The association leaders said that the action against the medical staff could not be justified since the hospital has been working with nearly half the staff strength. MCH management has been pressing the government to appoint 858 more staff nurses, 457 nursing assistants and 408 cleaning personnel to ensure quality medical care.

“The alarming rise in the number of Covid and non-Covid patients is putting a lot of pressure on MCH which also caters to patients from neighbouring districts and even Tamil Nadu,” a leader of the striking doctors said.

The KGMCTA decided to intensify their agitation following failure of talks with Health Minister K K Shyalaja on Friday, October 2. The department had taken action against the three medical personnel after a preliminary inquiry found neglect on their part in managing the patient, who was infested with maggots.

“There is an acute shortage of staff nurses and nursing assistants. Such untoward incidents are being highlighted and discussed by the media. This would demoralise scores of health staff working day and night tirelessly to fight the pandemic. We have been stretching their schedules and, sometimes, the nurse to patients’ ratio becomes too heavy,” the official was quoted by New Indian Express as saying.

The official said a minimum of 300 healthcare workers at the MCH have tested positive since the pandemic outbreak. According to authorities, the bed strength at the MCH comes to around 1,954 which is in addition to the multi-speciality block and a few other wards. After the outbreak, the MCH has been juggling with scores of critical patients, Covid and others.

There has been an influx of non-Covid patients after the declaration of unlock measures. “We have dedicated around 800 beds for non-Covid patients, but don’t have enough staff to manage patients as per the protocol issued by the state and the Centre,” said the official.

With almost all Covid patients admitted there being bedridden, the staff shortage is crippling. The Kerala Government Nurses Association (KGNA) state secretary Nisha Hameed said there is a huge gap in the staff-patient ratio. “It’s easy to blame us, which has always been happening. And it’s easier to suspend a nurse than take action against the people responsible for the fault.

Only PG doctors come for rounds once or twice to the Covid wards and nurses take care of patients. No senior doctor comes for rounds. Even if this happened because of our neglect, doctors are equally responsible. Had they come and screened the patients, they would have noticed the maggots,” said Nisha.

The incident has come amid mounting dissent among the medical community in the state over the government’s decision to withhold salary of government employees including those in the healthcare sectors for six more months in view the covid-induced financial crisis.

Image Credit: New Indian Express

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