Despite being marked as one of the hospitals where COVID-19 suspects are being admitted, the largest railway hospital under the jurisdiction of South Central Railways (SCR) located in Hyderabad's Mettuguda area hasn't been provided with essential facilities, employees allege.
The hospital has about 700 staff members, including nurses and doctors. Employees claim that there aren't enough sanitisers or masks to go around.
"We are being given substitutes like the rubbing alcohol instead of sanitisers to clean our hands and we are told that there is no stock of sanitisers," one of the employees alleged.
While the SCR has said that they have arranged for 1,000 beds to accommodate emergency COVID-19 cases under their zone, at various railway hospitals, the staff say that having beds in an isolation ward is not enough. "The hospitals should also have enough medical equipment and supplies to meet the need," the employee said.
Sharing pictures with TNM, the employees alleged that the isolated ward does not even have a Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) kit, that is necessary while coming in contact with patients diagnosed with COVID-19. The kit includes maks, goggles, gloves, gowns, head covers, shoe covers and face shields.
On Monday, a group of hospital staff even went and requested the head of the hospital, demanding that the facilities be upgraded for better protection. They were assured that the equipment would be acquired soon.
According to the hospital's admission register, there were about 10 people suspected to have COVID-19 who were admitted to the hospital, with six of them being admitted on March 19, after they came in contact with a person who tested positive for the coronavirus.
Some of the patients were referred to Gandhi Hospital while others were asked to stay in home quarantine for 14 days.
As per the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, even if no cases of COVID-19 are registered in the hospital, certain strategic priorities need to be in place. This includes a protocol to be followed, a helpline number, designated wards meant to isolate suspected cases and actively monitor those who are quarantined.
When contacted, officials of SCR contradicted the version of the employees and said that they were equipped to handle the suspected cases. Stating that arrangements were being made for masks and sanitisers, they added that the staff who were treating people suspected to have COVID-19 were also being quarantined on a rotational basis for observation.