Delhi govt fails to provide proper accommodation, meals to LNJP nurses on COVID-19 duty
Nurses who are on Covid-19 duty at LNJP Hospital have been staying in a hall at the Dental Hospital on the campus. Now, the director announced that all nurses would not be provided with meals either
The nurses of the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital, which was declared as a dedicated COVID-19 hospital, have not been provided with quarantine facilities even as doctors of the same hospital have been given accommodation at the five-star Lalit Hospital during their quarantine period.
Currently, the nurses of the hospital have a 14-day shift, after which they are under a 14-day quarantine period. The nurses who are on the COVID-19 duty at LNJP Hospital have been staying in a hall at the Dental Hospital on the campus. In each section, 30 beds have been set up for them. There are only two bathrooms and no specific changing rooms. The building has just been constructed and one open floor is being used for accommodating nurses after their shifts.
“Sometimes there are nine of us in a room and we have to share just one bathroom. What kind of quarantine facility is this? Delhi CM said doctors are at the frontline of the COVID-19 fight. What about us? Aren’t we at the forefront too and why this discrimination?” pointed out a nurse who did not want to be identified.
The Delhi government arranged for Lalit Hotel to accommodate the doctors but overlooked the nurses. But, it is the nurses who are on duty 24 hours and they do not have enough protection either.
“The government is discriminating. They have allocated a hotel for the doctors, but what about us nurses? The next batch of 120 nurses will finish their 14-day shift on April 10. How will they quarantine themselves? They will end up going home and then there is a higher chance of infecting their families. We are worried for our families. The first batch of nurses got out on April 1 and several of them went home. Only 10 of them are staying within hospital premises because they were afraid of infecting their families,” said Jeemol Shaji, general secretary of the Delhi State Hospital’s Nurses Union. She insisted that they just want a single room with attached bathroom for every health worker and they were not demanding five-star accommodation.
This worry prompted the Union members to write to the medical director JC Passey about the situation. “LNJP Hospital has about 1,300 nursing officer and at a time around 700 staff will be on 14-day Corona posting followed by 14-day quarantine. During the posting period, there is a high risk for direct contact and exposure. So, for the entire period, for their own safety and that of their families, it is the responsibility of the Delhi government to give single room with bathroom accommodation to each of the health workers. Otherwise it will negatively affect the whole community and the hospital manpower,” states the letter written to Passey.
On Saturday, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had announced that the government has identified 1,500 beds in LNJP and 500 in GB Pant hospital for COVID-19 patients. “The doctors and health staff manning these wards are provided special facilities for boarding and lodging in the nurses' hostel in the campus and a hotel nearby to avoid the issues of transportation and prevent the exposure to their families,” said Harsh Vardhan. Though there is a government order, the Delhi government has not implemented it.
“At present, 120 staffers are working in the Corona ward. We don’t have enough accommodation for all of these staffers. Since LNJP Hospital has been announced as a dedicated COVID-19 hospital, all 700 will be on duty soon. The hospital does not have enough accommodation for all of them. Where will they all go? Now they all go home, and this increases the risk of infection. Soon, LNJP health workers will be infected if the government does not prepare well,” said another nurse, who preferred to remain anonymous.
But this is not all. Earlier, all the nurses would be provided their meals at the hospitals, but now the director sent a verbal message stating that those who are coming from home would not be provided with meals. “All those working on COVID-19 duty were given lunch and dinner packets from Taj Hotel. The nurses could get breakfast from the 24-hour canteen on the campus. But, now it has been announced that only those who are staying at the Dental block will be given food. The nurses go home because they have no option for accommodation and now they will have to worry about their meals too,” explained a nurse who is currently on COVID-19 duty.
When National Herald reached out to the medical director JC Passey, he said, “I cannot talk to media persons. Bulletins will be released. Access that.”
The number of COVID-19 patients have been increasing at LNJP Hospital and currently there are 102 positive cases in the hospital and 378 people have been admitted in the hospital.
With several Malayali nurses testing positive, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has written to the Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal that he was informed about the lack of adequate precaution to prevent the contagion of the disease. In the letter, Vijayan requested Kejriwal to take adequate steps to provide PPEs and to provide separate and secure accommodation to the employees. Vijayan requested for immediate action to alleviate the concerns of the nurses from Kerala working in Delhi.
Published: 07 Apr 2020, 1:31 PM