Sulochana Pednekar is a Community Correspondent, a maternal health researcher and a Ph.D Scholar from Siolim village of Goa. Sulo, as we lovingly call her, has worked hard against poverty, inequality and has gained education by doing odd-jobs and getting scholarships. She continues to work hard even today, to balance community work and studies, “I mostly work on weekends as…
There is trouble brewing in the wards of Government Medical College, the biggest government hospital in Goa. The nurses and other staff have been neglecting their basic duties towards the patients. They have been putting the patients and their relatives through fear and trauma by forcing and bullying the relatives to administer complex tasks like administering insulin injections to diabetic patients without adequate training.
The family of Video Volunteers’ North Goa correspondent Sulochana and her family survived more than two weeks in this healthcare hell as her diabetic uncle recuperated from spinal surgery in ward no. 108 of the GMC. Sulochana is now on crusade to ensure that no one else has to go through what her family has faced.
She shared her story with us…
“After the surgery on the night of the 25th of September 2012, my uncle was wheeled into ward no.108 at 3.00 in the morning on the 26th. At around 6.00 a.m. the ward nurse came over and asked my brother if the patient was diabetic.”
“Brother said – ‘yes.’”
“The Nurse told him – ‘You know that you need to administer a glucometer test (to test blood sugar levels) on the patient. Take the glucometer and report the findings.’”
“’Aren’t the nurses supposed to do this?’ – asked my brother, who was quite taken aback with what the nurse had just said.”
But nurse insisted that it was his duty as a visiting relative to do so. My brother refused to take the test himself and it remained undone. When the doctor found out that a report had not been filled in for the day, he contacted the nurse who returned to uncle's bed and found that now it was my aunty who was present. The nurse now demanded that aunty take the glucometer test."
“Aunty told me the nurse looked surprised when she admitted that she did not know how to administer a glucometer test. And this was surprising to aunty because even at home a trained professional used to come over to administer the test I question. But here, in a hospital, the nurse was expecting poor aunty to do it.”
“’You have to learn’ – said the Nurse and she left aunty alone with a glucometer kit. She probably expected my aunty to draw a drop of blood and test it on the meter. Aunty was paranoid at the prospect. ”
"My aunt is fearful around needles and injections. But what could she do? Each time she had to give the test, she relied on a visiting relative or a neighbor in the ward who was confident enough to do it.”
“When I visited the hospital after work, aunty looked disturbed. She told me the whole story. Soon as I heard it I knew there was something very, very wrong going on.”
“I told my aunty – ‘What nonsense!’ And went to find the nurse in charge.”
“The nurse told me an unbelievable thing - that since the staff was overworked, the duty of healthcare of patients with prolonged and serious illness would have to be taken care off by the relatives.”
“’What nonsense!’ - I thought. That was when I decided to make my video. But first I wanted to find out who actually was supposed to take care of the duties. I filed an RTI (Right to Information) at the GMC for that very purpose.”
“As I waited for a reply to the RTI, our trials at the hospital continued. My aunty was being forced to administer insulin injections. One day when my uncle woke up in the middle of the night in terrible distress, the nurses refused to call a doctor until we begged and pleaded with them. Finally they relented and uncle was put on oxygen. But once he was feeling better, they refused to come over to put the tank off. I literally had to guess my way through the process.”
“About the RTI – It was much delayed and arrived after 45 days - 15 over the maximum number of stipulated days. This meant that the GMC is liable to pay compensation for the late delivery of information under the RTI Act. But they have misprinted/typed a lie on the date of the response. But they could not lie on the envelope which is stamped with the date of posting.”
“The information received states that the glucometer test in the wards is the responsibility of the hospital interns. It is the duty of the ward nurses to ensure that the responsibility is being carried out. The duty of giving insulin injection is that of the nurses on duty.”
“Another question that I had asked information for was that who was in charge of the proper functioning of the ward. It is the ward matron. If you ever want to complain at abut poor or lacking healthcare at a government hospital the ward matron is whom you are looking for. But if you want to complain at night when the matron is away, you are left with no options.”
“The good news is that my uncle has made his way out of the hospital safe and he is now recuperating at home. The bad news is that the staff and employees of the GMC that I spoke to during the making of my video remain defensive of their decisions to shoulder visiting relatives with responsibilities of patient care.”
“I hope you will support me in my quest to bring accountability to Goa’s biggest government hospital so no one has go through what we went through.”
Call to Action: “I request you to call Medical Superintendent of GMC Dr. Sunanda Amonkar on 08322495010 and make a demand to stop the practice of forcing the patient’s relatives to administer tests and injections.”
“It is not only against the rules but also puts the life and well being of the patients in grave danger.”
“I request you to be aware of your rights and responsibilities the next time you or your loved one is admitted in a government hospital.”
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