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‘Saw man dying unattended’: PGIMS Rohtak battles staff Covid surge as patient count rises

67 doctors & staffers tested positive for Covid at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Rohtak, Saturday. As many as 174 have tested positive in past six days.

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Rohtak: Sixty-seven doctors and staffers at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS), Rohtak, tested positive for Covid Saturday, ThePrint has learnt.

The high incidence of Covid among doctors and healthcare workers at the hospital has meant shortage of staff at a time when the facility is grappling with a high influx of Covid patients.

The institute is Rohtak’s most biggest tertiary care centre — hospitals equipped for specialised and complex medical procedures, such as organ transplant and complex surgeries — for Covid treatment.

“We may be in trouble if this trend continues. One-hundred-and-seventy-four healthcare workers tested positive in the past six days, a big cause of concern for us,” Dr Pushpa Dahiya, medical superintendent, PGIMS, told ThePrint.

Out of the 67 who tested positive Saturday, 15 healthcare workers are admitted at PGIMS, while the others are in home quarantine.

A few days earlier, PGIMS director Dr Rohtash Yadav had also tested positive for Covid, as had two of the doctors at the Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, including state nodal officer for Covid, Dr Dhruva Chaudhary (who has been re-infected), ThePrint has learnt.

Dahiya said the hospital was in the process of adding more beds for Covid patients. However, speaking on the condition of anonymity, doctors said the real problem was not shortage of beds, but lack of doctors to attend to the sick. Patients’ families, too, complained of neglect.

Also read: ‘Where are ambulances, Covid hospitals?’: Family of UP journalist who died without treatment

More beds, less manpower

PGIMS has 2,050 beds in total, of which 245 beds have been dedicated for Covid patients. According to Dahiya, 80 to 90 per cent of the Covid beds are currently occupied.

“We held an emergency meeting with the vice-chancellor and director Friday and have decided to turn one of the hospital buildings into another Covid ward, with 80 more beds,” said Dahiya.

“But we have also told the civil surgeon (head of the district health department) that we may not be able to handle the excessive load of patients [according to data provided by PGIMS, 156 new positive patients reported at the hospital’s Trauma Centre on 16 April] and requested that patients with mild infections be transferred to the Civil Hospital, Rohtak,” she added.

A PGIMS doctor, however, told ThePrint that the real crisis facing the hospital was the shortage of medical manpower. “One of our colleagues recently recovered from Covid. He still has post-Covid symptoms, such as extreme weakness, but had to return to work because there are not enough doctors to attend to patients,” said the doctor, not wishing to be named.

Another doctor said, because of manpower shortage, the hospital is choosing which patients to treat on the basis of their survival chances, depending on age and comorbidities. “Even if there are beds, they are of no use if there are not enough doctors and support staff to take care of the patients,” the doctor added.

Dahiya admitted there are challenges, but insisted that the hospital was still managing to take care of its patients. Families of patients, however, claimed otherwise.

Also read: Ramp up vaccinations, they are key to Covid battle, Manmohan Singh writes to PM Modi

‘No one to attend to patients’

When ThePrint spoke to Gaurav Kumar, 31, from Sirsa, he had been waiting for 24 hours for a bed for his 75-year-old grandmother, whose RT-PCR report showed her to be Covid positive Friday. The patient was lying on a stretcher.

“Her oxygen level has been going down steadily, but there is no one to attend to her. Doctors come to check on patients only after repeated requests. Families are having to take care of them,” he added.

Even critical patients who have been referred to PGIMS from other hospitals have allegedly suffered similar neglect.

Bhiwani resident Sunil Chauhan was waiting to get his Covid-positive father admitted since Saturday morning. At 2.30 pm, he was still waiting for a doctor. “A private hospital in Bhiwani gave up and said his breathing was inconsistent, so I should bring him here. But the situation here is pathetic. My father has not been given a bed. I bought an oxygen mask from a shop outside, because there were no oxygen masks available at the hospital.”

To add to his trauma, he saw another patient dying unattended in front of his eyes. “I saw a person in his 40s dying, because there was no one to attend to him,” said Chauhan.

With so many of its own staffers battling Covid, the hospital is hard-pressed to take care of patients.

According to data provided by the office of the medical superintendent, since January this year, 266 healthcare workers at PGIMS have tested positive for Covid. This includes 115 doctors, 49 nurses, 21 paramedical staff, 25 sweepers, 19 ministerial staff and 37 students. The hospital has a total staff strength of 3,500, including doctors, nurses, paramedical staff and non-teaching staff, according to information shared by the office of PGIMS public relations officer.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: Modi govt has made a mockery of Covid crisis, high time it gets serious about real solutions


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