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36 nurses deployed to Malegaon, wander whole night searching accommodation

Malegaon – the textile city in North Maharashtra which has become another Coronavirus hotspot in the state after Mumbai and Pune

Tuesday May 5, 2020 3:47 PM, ummid.com Staff Reporter

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Malegaon: A group of nurses from Nashik and adjoining areas had shock of their lives Saturday when they arrived in Malegaon to help control Coronavirus outbreak in the city but left without food and water for hours and wandered here and there for the entire night searching for a suitable accommodation.

Malegaon – the textile city in North Maharashtra which has become another Coronavirus hotspot in the state after Mumbai and Pune, has so far reported over 330 Coronavirus positive cases and 12 deaths. But, how the healthcare system of the city has collapsed is gauged from more than 500 deaths since lockdown that occurred due to ailments other than Covid-19.

Owing to the serious situation arising out of the sudden spike in Covid-19 cases and lockdown deaths, there has been a persistent demand to reinforce additional medical staff in Malegaon. The deployment of the nurses from Nashik was in line with this local demand.

However, the haphazard manner the nurses were treated with on their arrival in Malegaon has again put a big question mark on the preparedness, sincerity and competency of the Malegaon Municipal Corporation (MMC) staff and administrative officials who have been given charge of the war against Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) in Malegaon.

‘Testing time’

Sharing with ummid.com the shocking treatment meted out to the nurses, Kalpana D Pawar, Secretary of the Nashik Nurses Association, said testing time for the nurses began the very moment they were ordered to leave for Malegaon.

“The nurses were shot a message around 12:00 am on the intervening night of May 1-2 on their WhatsApp accounts to join Malegaon with immediate effect, failing which strict action will be taken against them”, she said.

Some of the nurses were able to read the message immediately. Some took 2-3 hours before reading it. But, they were all confused because of the missing guidelines.

“There was no mention of the mode of transport and how will they manage to reach Malegaon in the midst of lockdown”, she said.

Nashik nurses in Malegaon

[Malegaon admin later also supplied the nurses new buckets and other utensils apparently to repair the damage caused to them due to their unpreparedness.]

Yet the nurses were ready to start for the “Corona battle ground” by noon on Saturday, unaware of the shock and trauma that awaited them in Malegaon.

“Some of the nurses were posted at Primary Healthcare Center (PHC) in Peth, Igatpuri, Dindori, Wani, Ghoti and other neighbouring towns and villages. It was a daunting task for all them to assemble in Nashik and then proceed to Malegaon because of the lockdown”, the group leader of the nurses said requesting anonymity.

“There was no one for the necessary coordination. Somehow a vehicle was arranged and all the 36 nurses were picked up from wherever they were posted”, the group leader said.

“We reached Malegaon at around 03:00 pm Saturday only to be met by shock of our life”, the group leader said.

Officials caught unaware

The group claimed that once they reached Malegaon they realised that local authorities were not aware of their deployment in the city.

“It required a number of phone calls to Nashik and other place to bring an official in loop. But, there was no office staff at Malegaon SDM office who could prepare the documents”, the group leader said.

“We sat in the corridor without food and water till 07:00 pm waiting for the documents”, the nurses said.

Filthy toilets with broken doors

Another shock was in waiting for them when they were shifted to a government hostel allotted for their residence.

“The hostel was filthy, taps were dry, the bathrooms and toilets had broken doors and were literally unusable, especially for females, and there was no water. It appeared to us that the depleted building was closed for years and only opened Sunday for our accommodation”, the nurses said.

“We just refused to reside in the hostel”, they said.

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It was 11:00 pm and the nurses had not been served any food till now. They sat outside the hostel waiting for alternate suitable accommodation. Then came some local officials, who took them to a lodge located in the Coronavirus Red Zone of the city.

“It baffled us. Even the policemen posted there advised us against residing in the area because of the huge number of Covid-19 patients reported from there”, the nurses said.

“At around 02:30 pm we were taken to ITI College. Situation here was as bad as the one we experienced at the government hostel”, they said.

‘Unfit for our profession to run from the ground’

Pained by the lacklustre treatment meted to them by the local administration the nurses had almost decided to say goodbye to Malegaon and return back to Nashik.

“Looking at the haphazard manner we were treated in Malegaon even our bosses told us to return back to Nashik. It was a painful decision to take. We thought it unfit for our profession to run from the ground”, the nurses said.

The nurses decided against leaving the city and requested the local authorities to accommodate them at a place where they can at least properly sanitise and disinfect themselves after duty. At around 04:00 am, they were finally accommodated in another government hostel in Malegaon Camp.

“This is newly built and it is perhaps still to be inaugurated”, the group leader of the nurses deployed form various places of Nashik district to Malegaon said.

'Communication gap'

Dr Sapana Thakare, Health Officer of Malegaon, while regretting the problems the nurses encountered on their arrival in Malegaon said whatever happened was because of the communication gap.

“We were not informed in advance and hence it took time to arrange a suitable accommodation for them”, she told ummid.com.

“They have been now suitably accommodated and we are taking care of all of their requirements”, she added.

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