With junior nurses staying away from work, it was a busy day for students at Apollo Hospitals

From a steady stream of vehicles, patients and their relatives alighted. The scene outside Fortis Malar Hospital in Adyar on Wednesday was chaotic like any other day. Inside the glass-and-chrome air-conditioned building, too, the activity was no different. All chairs in the waiting hall on the ground floor were full. Around noon, the first floor teemed with patients and if you had vacated your seat, it was hard to get one. The scene was no different at Apollo Hospitals, Greams Road.

From afar, everything seemed normal at these two hospitals, in spite of a good section of nurses keeping away from work for the seventh consecutive day. But, the picture inside was not rosy. The admission counter at Apollo Hospitals, for instance, did not take any new cases, unless it was an emergency. “For the next few days, we think, the strike by the nurses will still be on, so we are not admitting any new patients,” said the staff at the counter at the rather empty hall in the administrative block.

Not all families that were already given admission were lucky. Mita Dutta of Kolkata had been informed that her brother, admitted to the hospital over two weeks ago for a bypass surgery, would be operated upon on March 4. “I came to the city on March 2 to help him out, but I found the surgery postponed due to the strike. They haven't even given us a tentative date,” said Ms. Dutta, adding that life in a hospital can be miserable without nurses. She added that much of the work was being done by student nurses.

With many of junior nurses staying away from work, it has been a busy day for the students at Apollo Hospitals. “We are never allowed to do anything, but ever since the strike began, students of all three years are at the hospital,” said a nursing student, adding that it has been a learning experience for them.

Fortis Malar, to tide over the shortage of nurses, moved staff from its other centres including Puducherry and Delhi. “I came this Monday from Delhi, although a large number, over 60 I think, came in much earlier,” said a nurse. According to her, much of the pressure is being experienced by senior nurses who have not taken a break from work ever since the strike began.

Keywords: nurses strike

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