After the mass resignation of doctors and nurses, and lack of facilities, Lifeline, the agency handling the mega COVID facility at College of Engineering Pune (COEP), has announced it is withdrawing from the task of managing it. The agency said that they have to face ‘intense political pressure and drama’, making it difficult for them to function. The facility had started to function on 24th August.
Indian Express quoted Sujit Patker, director of Lifeline, saying, “We cannot run the hospital in a situation like this. The atmosphere has been vitiated by undue political pressure… we have conveyed our inability to run the jumbo facility to the divisional commissioner. They will have to take a decision on this.”
The agency withdrew its name after the district administration appointed two more agencies to provide medical professionals for the facility. Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao said on Saturday that as Lifeline cannot provide staff in adequate numbers, the administration has appointed two more agencies.
Patient overload, politicians abusing, threatening medical staff
Patker stated to Indian Express that it is not possible to work in a three-party system. It will confuse and create problems while trying to coordinate and manage the facility. “These are medico-legal cases. Someone has to be held responsible. A single party cannot be held responsible. And, therefore, I think it would be better if we opt out of the contract and allow those appointed to run the show,” he added. He denied that Lifeline was unable to provide adequate staff.
In his statement, Parker said that the problem arose when political leaders started to interfere. He alleged that they gate-crashed the facility and abused and threatened the medical staff. Some of the doctors and nurses resigned just a day after joining, while many refused to join. “Nobody wanted to work under intense political pressure,” he added.
According to the contract signed by Lifeline, they had to manage 25% of the facility’s capacity for the first week and the number of patients was supposed to increase slowly. However, as per the Indian Express report, Patker stated that they were asked to handle 350 to 400 critical patients within three to four days of opening the facility. Last week, television journalist Pandurang Raikar had died at the jumbo facility and the state government initiated a probe to see if there was mismanagement at the facility. However, the management said that the relatives of the patient wanted to move him to a private hospital.
COVID facility at COEP was shut down temporarily after staff shortage
The jumbo facility at the College of Engineering Pune grounds was shut down temporarily on September 4 by orders of the PMC due to staff shortage and allegations of mismanagement. The municipal commissioner had stated that the administration is trying to hire more medical staffers to run the facility and the facility will open once adequate staff are available.
It is notable here that the private organisation Lifeline is also running 4 jumbo COVID facilities in Mumbai.
Pune became the worst-hit district by Covid-19 in India
Pune, Maharashtra, has become the worst-hit district for the Chinese coronavirus. It has registered a total of 1,99,403 cases so far, with 4,744 new cases reported on 6th September. There are 61,383 active cases in Pune at the moment. BJP MLA Siddharth Shirole, who represents Shivajinagar constituency in Pune, had accused the Maha Vikas Aghadi led Uddhav Thackeray government for ignoring Pune. He said that CM Thackeray had not made any visit to Pune despite a sharp increase in the number of cases.