AIIMS nurses’ strike continues for third day, likely to go on mass casual leave on June 10
It’s been 3 days since the nurses of All India Institute of Medical Sciences have been on protest regarding COVID-19 work procedures, but the hospital admin has refused to acknowledge the protest
It’s been three days since the nurses of All India Institute of Medical Sciences have been on protest regarding Covid-19 work procedures, but the hospital administration has refused to acknowledge the protest. They have not called the nurses for a meeting either. The AIIMS Nurses Union has said they will protest in front of the director’s office from Thursday and if their demands are not met, all the nurses will go on mass casual leave on June 10. The AIIMS nurses will go on an indefinite strike from June 15.
The AIIMS Nurses Union has been complaining to the AIIMS management for almost three weeks about the lack of proper guidelines, personal protective equipment (PPE) and health issues being faced by the nurses on Covid-19 duty.
“The protest began when we realised that the management did not want to even acknowledge the issue. The management is simply being adamant. We did not want to protest, but our lives are at stake here. Don’t our lives matter?” asked Fameer CK, general secretary AIIMS Nurses Union.
The AIIMS Nurses Union has been demanding implementation of uniform four-hour duty wearing the PPE kits, uniform rotation of nurses between Covid-19 duty and non-Covid-19 duty, establishment of proper donning and doffing area, display of duty roster, shuttle service for those working on night shift, establishment of feedback system for health care workers and simplification of accommodation allotment.
“Initially, there weren’t a lot of Covid-19 positive patients coming to AIIMS, but now the numbers are increasing. As the numbers are increasing, the staff members are also falling ill. The hospital so far has not begun the rotation of nurses between Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 areas. So, with this continued exposure, the health workers will fall ill. Staffers have lost weight, several female nurses have contracted Urinary Tract Infection, there are sores and boils on the noses and ears of most health workers,” highlighted Fameer CK.
“The nurses want their working hours to be reduced because of the extreme heat. We didn’t raise any issues these two months, but now the condition of our colleagues is worsening. That is when we decided to raise these issues. On Thursday, we will protest in front of the director’s office because the administration wants to believe nothing is wrong. If they still do not resolve our issues, all the nurses will go on a mass casual leave on June 10 and begin an indefinite strike from June 15,” underscored Fameer.
President of the union, Harishkumar Kajla said working at a stretch for six hours, which usually extend to seven to eight hours at times, while donning PPEs was adversely affecting the physical well-being of the nursing staff, especially the women.
Unlike the donning and doffing area for doctors, the area where the nurses remove the PPE kits is unclean. “The PPE kits keep piling up in the area. No one comes to clear it. That is why all of us are falling ill. We don’t have a proper area to take a shower after removing the PPE kit. In most hospitals, nurses wear the PPE suit only for three hours and then they have other work. Here we have to wear it for six hours continuously. Menstruating women suffer the most. After the duty, the administration won’t even provide refreshments. That is one of our demands. All of these issues can be taken care of by the administration, but they don’t want to,” said a nurse, who did not want to be identified.
Additionally, accommodation has been a problem for all nurses, while doctors have single-AC room accommodation. “Nurses were given accommodation in Vishram Sadan on the campus, which does not have air conditioning or proper food. Nurses have been complaining, but the administration does not want us to raise these issues. Senior doctors don’t even come to Covid-19 wards, that is why they don’t understand our problems,” said another nurse on condition of anonymity.
The number of infected health care workers at AIIMS has been rising too. AIIMS Medical Superintendent Dr DK Sharma said, "329 healthcare workers have so far contracted Covid-19 since February 1. Several of those who had tested positive have recovered and rejoined duty."