Mumbai: Amid serious concerns over whether adequate protective gear is being provided to doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers battling it out on the frontlines of the war against COVID-19, the Chief Medical Officer of a civic hospital in Mumbai has approached the police alleging he was threatened and abused by a senior civic official when the doctor asked for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for his hospital staff.

Dr Avinash Sankhe, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Krantijyoti Savitribai Phule Hospital in Borivali (East), popularly called Shatabdi Hospital, has submitted a complaint letter to the Kasturba Marg Police, alleging that Deputy Municipal Commissioner Ramesh Pawar threatened and abused him over a phone call for demanding PPE for the hospital staff.

A police officer said a First Information Report (FIR) will be registered after a detailed verification of the allegations levelled. With a massive outbreak of COVID-19 across the country, there has been a serious shortage of PPE kits at the hospitals where isolation and quarantine wards have been set up.

Against the backdrop of this shortage, Dr Sankhe had expressed his concern to a national daily as well as his superiors, claiming that if the PPE kits are not made available, the staff could get infected, leading to the entire hospital staff being quarantined.

In his complaint to the police, Sankhe has alleged that Pawar called him on the phone on Wednesday, and threatened and abused him owing to the negative media coverage and his demand for PPE kits for the staff Sankhe told The Free Press Journal, "Krantiyoti Savitribai Phule Hospital has made arrangements for the isolation and quarantine of COVID-19 patients.

However, after the initial supply of PPE kits, a shortage arose, and I duly informed the department. Much to my surprise, I received a phone call from the DMC Ramesh Pawar, where he hurled abuses at me and threatened to dismiss me from the chief medical officer's post."

Shocked and upset with Pawar's action, Sankhe submitted a complaint letter at Kasturba Marg police station, while sending copies of it to the Municipal Commissioner, Maharashtra CM and the PM. "If the police do not file a FIR, I will go to court and fight against this mistreatment and threats," added Sankhe.

When contacted, Pawar refuted the allegation, saying he did not threaten anyone, but issued instructions. “I was quoted out of context. Being a superior, I simply instructed Sankhe about the protocol and said if things escalate, we will have to abide by the law.

I was only guiding my junior,” Pawar said. Namdeo Shinde, senior inspector of Kasturba Marg police station, said the police had received the complaint letter and would take necessary action only after verifying the allegations.

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