Bengaluru govt hospital staff demand PPE after doctor, paramedics get COVID-19

Over the past one week alone, one doctor working in the hospital and two paramedic staff contracted the virus.
COVID care centre
COVID care centre

Medical staff, including doctors and staff nurses at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health in Bengauru’s Jayanagar, have expressed concerns over the lack of adequate protective gear after three of their colleagues tested positive for coronavirus.

While the staff had been demanding protection like face shields, gloves for triage area and personal protective equipment (PPE) for the doctors and nurses since the onset of the pandemic, the administration had remained unresponsive.

Now, in the wake of the three such positive cases, the hospital administration has finally promised to give PPE starting from Thursday to all staff working in the emergency facilities. Until now it is only the staff at the ‘COVID-19 suspect ward’ who were provided PPE.

Over the past one week alone, one doctor working in the hospital and two paramedic staff contracted the virus.

The hospital is a 400-bed super speciality pediatric hospital and works as a government-run referral centre for children in Karnataka. The hospital runs as an autonomous body, registered under Karnataka Societies Registration Act 1960 functioning under the control of Ministry of Medical Education, Government of Karnataka.

A staffer in the hospital said that the decision on PPEs was only taken when the hospital was forced with a severe staff crunch, given doctors and other staff who were in contact with the doctor who tested positive had to go in quarantine.

A doctor in the hospital, speaking on condition of anonymity, said. “The situation was so bad that they were almost asking the staff who were in quarantine to join for work before the 14-day period in violation of the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) guidelines. With this, the persons who are at a risk themselves already will put others at risk when forced to go on duty.”

“Staff working in the triage area who are also at a greater risk still don’t have any protection. We have asked a number of times but all of the time we were told that we don’t need them. And much of the work as it is done by the masters’ students who also need protective gear,” the doctor said.

The doctor also questioned the lack of quarantine facilities for the high-risk staff after some staff who were asked to quarantine themselves at their own homes.

Dr Sanjay KS, director of the institute, denied that staff were not adequately protected. 

“Who told that the staff is not provided by PPE? We have got sufficient PPE and N95 masks?” he said, telling TNM that the allegations were false.

No shortage of PPEs’

When alerted about this allegation, Dr PG Girish, the state Director of Medical Education Department, said there should not be any reason for the shortage, given the hospital gets a significant allocation every year.

“The PPEs are available everywhere. The institute is an autonomous body and the director has been given powers upto spend Rs 25,000 per day for procuring any emergency equipment. And otherwise for procuring any consumables there is a centralised repository in government-run Karnataka Drug Logistics and Warehousing Society (KDLWS), so they can approach there and get it,” he told TNM.

The KDWLS is already supplying these things to all 15 district hospitals, 17 medical colleges and all other autonomous bodies.

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