Gangtok: On the night of October 8, around 2:45 am, chaos engulfed the emergency ward of STNM hospital caused by a bike accident victim and his friends. They verbally abused the staff on duty, who were already stretched due to the pandemic. The next day a police complaint was filed and the accused arrested; This is not an isolated incident with COVID-19 cases on the rise health workers are on the receiving end of public anger.
They are often abused and blamed for negligence claims the medical superintendent of the hospital Dr CS Sharma.
On Sunday the unthinkable happened, the doctors instead of proceeding with stringent provisions under the Epidemic Disease Act chose to forgive. The maximum punishment under the act is 5 years in jail.
There was a press conference where the accused apoligised to the staff and appealed to the public for patience while in hospitals. They do not want others to behave like they way they did.
STNM Hospital’s Medical Superintendent said, “There is a trend of aggression against us. We have lost two health workers to COVID-19, 54 of them have tested positive during this pandemic. Our efforts are overlooked by every patient coming with an emergency. Anyone coming to the hospital must respect the health workers, and that has not happened in these times of pandemic. We deal with verbal abuses and threats while treating the patients and saving lives. Such incidents that have given rise to an overall hatred towards health workers which we feel is not justified”.
Doctors say such incidents have undermined the confidence of health workers. They have put out an appeal to the public to be patient and understand the pressures they are facing due to the pandemic.
The president of the Indian Medical Association, Sikkim chapter Dr Karma Loday Bhutia was also present. The association wanted to make an example of the boys but decided to stand by the decision of the doctors.
Bhutia said, “We were adamant on pressing charges on the perpetrators, and the IMAs branches were equally supporting the claim of health workers being abused and feeling unsafe in their work environment largely due to public. But, we decided the drop charges understanding it is very local incident wherein everyone knows each other as Sikkim is a close-knit society. We also want people to understand that health workers are not sitting targets for public to come about and abuse solely in the name of getting treatment from a government hospital. We have forgiven them once, but a repeat of any such incident will not be taken lightly”.
The STNM hospital management also admitted to staff shortage resulting in health workers being overworked.
In these times of COVID-19, when hospitals, especially ones that are government-run, are stretched the doctors once again rose above their duty and set an example of forgiveness as they struggle to save lives.
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