As nurses at Mumbai’s King Edward Mumbai Hospital protested on Monday, demanding a separate ward for colleagues infected by the COVID-19 virus and shorter shifts, three resident doctors shared a video highlighting how they cared for 25 critically-ill COVID-19 patients.
The nurses, who wanted shift timings reduced from eight-10 hours to six-seven hours, returned to work the same day; they said the Dean had assured them a separate ward was under construction. However, the doctors have warned that a future shortage of staff responsible for monitoring patients’ condition, could lead to an increase in the number of coronavirus-linked deaths.
“This is KEM Hospital, Ward 4. For the last several hours there is no staff nurse. We are managing 25 critical patients and only three resident doctors are continuously working to keep them alive,” a doctor dressed in a full-body PPE (personal protective equipment) suit can be heard at the start of the video.
The video, which shows how doctors stepped up to take over responsibilities of staff nurses in addition to their own, pans to reveal a large room filled with beds on which coronavirus patients lie hooked up to IVs and machines.
“We need health workers and we need staff nurses. We can’t do this alone. There are very sick patients right now,” the doctor adds.
The nurses’ protest had been precipitated by a delay in finding a bed for a KEM nurse who contracted the novel coronavirus while caring for a patient at the hospital.
The situation at KEM has returned to normal but doctors have pointed out it could have spiraled out of control, given how stretched the healthcare system is in Mumbai and with critical patients who need to be monitored constantly.
KEM Hospital also made headlines last month after the death of a health worker posted to a COVID-19 ward sparked outcry. The worker was a daily wager who was allegedly denied leave though he had been unwell for four days.
Mumbai crossed the 40,000-mark late Monday night with 1,413 fresh infections in 24 hours, the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) said. 40 deaths were reported in the same period, taking the total number of deaths to 1,319.
Maharashtra, meanwhile, has crossed the 70,000-mark in COVID-19 cases.