PGIMER says necessary equipment will be provided soon.(HT FILE)
PGIMER says necessary equipment will be provided soon.(HT FILE)

Not provided N-95 mask, PGI attendant refuses to carry ‘suspected’ patient’s body

Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By Tanbir Dhaliwal, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON MAR 27, 2020 01:05 AM IST

A hospital attendant in the emergency unit of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) refused to pack the body of a “suspected” coronavirus patient and shift it to the mortuary as he was not provided an N-95 or three-layered surgical face mask.

It was only after a three-layered mask was provided to him that the health worker lifted the body.

PGI contractual employees’ union vice-president Jitender said, “When the attendant demanded a face mask before shifting the deceased’s body, the hospital officials told him not to worry, pack the body and shift it to the mortuary. It was after we raised a hue and cry that the health worker demanded a three-layered mask to shift the body.”


A resident doctor, on the condition of anonymity, said, “The patient was shifted from Delhi and in the hospital documents, it was recommended that she be tested for H1N1 and Covid-19, so it was a suspected case. She died on Thursday.”

A 28-year-old hospital attendant, who has been working in PGIMER for the last seven years, said he was “disappointed” with the hospital administration’s attitude towards sanitation workers. “While the entire country is in lockdown, we are working. PGIMER is one of the biggest hospitals in the country. On regular days, there is no dearth of masks or sanitisers at the hospital, but since the pandemic has gripped the country, it ran out of masks and even sanitisers are nowhere to be seen now,” he said.

The attendant also said, “Shouldn’t it be the opposite? During such scenarios, the masks and sanitisers should be in plenty, but the sanitation staff is being forced to fight for the basic necessity.”

As per the guidelines released by the Union ministry of health and family welfare, N-95 masks and gloves should be given to the sanitation staff, who are at moderate risk.

Despite attempts, the officials concerned could not be reached.

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