Doctors in KEM Hospital, Mumbai highlight inhuman working conditions in treating Covid-19 patients

The Resident Doctors’ Association of King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital in Mumbai has highlighted the inhuman conditions in which the doctors treating Covid-19 patients are compelled to work, in an open letter to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra.

Mumbai is reported to have over 41,000 coronavirus cases. It has become one of the worst-hit cities by coronavirus globally. With more and more patients reporting sick each day, the doctors and other medical staff are severely stressed. They often have to put in twice as many hours of work as normal. The hospital beds are filled to capacity as well.

Nurses at Mumbai's civic-run KEM Hospital protested demanding a separate ward for colleagues infected by the Covid-19
Nurses at Mumbai’s KEM Hospital protested demanding a separate ward for colleagues infected by the Covid-19

The doctors and nurses at Mumbai’s premier government hospital, the KEM Hospital are greatly traumatised by the work pressure. The Resident Doctors’ Association has pointed out in its letter to the Chief Minister, that there is a severe shortage of nursing and other support staff in the hospital. In a video sent with the letter, the doctors in the Covid-19 ward have tried to highlight their ordeal.

The video shows only 3 doctors having to shoulder the responsibility of looking after 35 patients. The doctors point out that there is no staff to clean the floor and no nurse to attend to the patients. The patients are already very sick. Relatives of the patients are not being allowed to assist them with eating, going to bathroom, or any other processes. The doctors feel utterly helpless as they have to literally see the patients die before their very eyes!

Despite repeated attempts by the doctors to raise their concerns with the hospital authorities, their grievances remain unheard. “We have tried to take the matter up with higher authorities but to no avail. The situation has been this grim since past many weeks and it’s only getting worse. If nothing is done now, then I’m afraid we will lose all hope,” the doctors have written in the letter.

KEM hospital is one of the few hospitals in Mumbai that treats both Covid-19 and non-Covid patients. Since the nearby municipal-run Nair hospital has been converted into a Covid-19 facility, the pressure at KEM has doubled.

In their letter, the doctors have demanded shorter working shifts and a separate ward for medical staff testing Covid-19 positive.

Through the video and letter, the doctors also hope to highlight the terrible conditions faced by patients as well as doctors, nurses and other staff at the government hospitals, which they say “was an inevitability”, given the “ridiculously low amount of the GDP” the state spends on public health.

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