By Arré Bench May. 12, 2020
The Resident Medical Officers at Sion Hospital, along with KEM Hospital, Bhabha Hospital, and possibly others, have not been paid their salary or stipend since mid-March. If true, it’s another chink in Mumbai’s deteriorating armour against the coronavirus.
Mumbai is at the heart of India’s battle against the coronavirus, being the largest city in Maharashtra, the state with the highest number of positive Covid-19 cases. However, in the city, the healthcare system is currently stretched thin due to the ravages of the pandemic. As the number of cases and deaths rises, a video went viral last week that showed a morbid scene from inside Sion Hospital, which is run by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The video showed the dead bodies of patients placed in body bags lying on beds in the ward where patients were also being treated. This led to a burst of outrage on social media about the state of affairs in Mumbai’s hospitals.
Dear @mybmc & people outraged about #SionHospital. PLEASE outrage about this: NO RESIDENT MEDICAL OFFICER HAS RECEIVED SALARY/STIPEND SINCE MID MARCH, citing crap like vendor registration! They will live on flower petals and thali banging? They bear brunt of #CovidCare PAY THEM pic.twitter.com/yZQHHCFafK
— Sucheta Dalal (@suchetadalal) May 11, 2020
Now, another troubling incident has come to light, pointed out by journalist Sucheta Dalal on Twitter – that the Resident Medical Officers (RMO) at Sion Hospital, along with KEM Hospital, Bhabha Hospital, and possibly others, have not been paid their salary or stipend since mid-March. If true, it’s another chink in Mumbai’s deteriorating armour against the coronavirus.
Despite this, the frontline warriors at Sion Hospital, including the doctors, nurses, attendants, and other staff, continue to serve Mumbai’s public as best as they can. Shortly after the video of the dead bodies in the ward went viral, a Junior Resident at Sion Hospital put out another viral post, this one highlighting the good work being done by the medical professionals there.
The Dean of the Hospital had come forward to clarify that the video was shot at a point when bodies were lying unclaimed because relatives were not willing to accept the body of a patient that had died of Covid-19. However, in just a matter of days after the damning footage of the ward went viral, the Dean was transferred and replaced with his successor.
Maharashtra government appoints Ramesh Bharmal as the director and dean of Lokmanya Tilak Municipal Hospital at Sion in Mumbai.
— All India Radio News (@airnewsalerts) May 9, 2020
The latest development to the story of Mumbai’s hospitals is the BMC finally taking steps to address the problem of unclaimed bodies by paying attendants a fee of ₹1,000 for every body they pack, transport to the mortuary, and handover to the concerned family, with a fresh kit of PPE for every shift.
After being embarrassed by reports of #COVID19 bodies lying around unattended in hospitals for hours and attendants being afraid of going anywhere near them, the bmc found solution — Pack the bodies shift it from wards to morgue and get Rs 1000 per body https://t.co/uPIs1MjUx0 pic.twitter.com/GuSg7SPgvm
— Lata Mishra (@lata_MIRROR) May 12, 2020
While that takes care of the bodies of coronavirus victims, the issue of the unpaid salaries of staff still remains unsolved. Mumbai is at a critical phase in its fight against Covid-19. How the city’s authorities marshal their fraying healthcare system will be crucial to the outcome.