Mumbai: Ministering angels turn monsters

Mumbai: The Additional Municipal Commissioner, Health, Idzes Kundan, went undercover as a patient’s relative in the civic-run Sewri Tuberculosis Hospital, to be able to make a fair assessment of the situation there, and discovered that there was truth in allegations made by a 12-year-old TB patient’s family about the impertinence of the nurses and their misbehaviour.

Taking serious cognisance of the nurses’ misbehaviour with patients, BMC has suspended one nurse, transferred three and issued notices to 10 others. On September 23, nurses and other staff asked six TB patients in the hospital, including children, to leave. After being diagnosed with TB, a 12-year-old girl had been brought to the hospital on September 21. But the nurses and staff dissuaded the patient’s family from getting her admitted to the hospital; the family did so anyway.

However, soon after she was admitted, the nurses began behaving rudely and asked them to obtain an early discharge. When this did not work, the nurses then allegedly threatened the family that if they did not leave, they (the nurses) would administer a lethal injection to the patient. Terrified, the family got their child discharged from the hospital. However, they staged a protest outside the Mahim Dargah on Thursday, with other patients who had been similarly turned out of the hospital on Sunday, Kundan decided to investigate complaints about the staffers’ behaviour by posing as a patient’s relative.

After the surprise inspection, she ordered suspension of a nurse who was found misbehaving with paediatric patients. Kundan said, “This is a one-of-a-kind hospital, treating TB patients only. I will not let any internal matters affect the patients’ welfare. If a patient dies on account of these disciplinary issues, I will file an FIR against the erring staff.”During the protest, the family accused the nurses and the cleaning staff of using foul language and misbehaving with patients to get rid of them. “The nurses and the staff did not even provide medicines, a clean bed and a clean bathroom. The staff refused to even take the patients’ temperatures,” said one of the protesters. Since CCTV cameras in the hospital are not functional, doctors are unaware of treatment meted out to patients by the nurses. Dr Lalit Anande, the hospital’s chief medical officer (CMO), said, “Since CCTV cameras are working, we will have to conduct an internal inquiry. It completely pains me to learn that my patients had to leave as they were threatened by the staff.”Taking cognisance of this situation, Dr Santosh Revankar, deputy executive health officer of BMC, had visited the hospital recently and had given an ultimatum to the staffers — behave properly or face the consequences.

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