It was past midnight, a few hours after reporting for her night shift at Salt Lake’s Advance Medical Research Institute (AMRI), when 25-year-old staff nurse, Uma Kesh complained of severe headache.

She sought help at the emergency department where she was ordered to undergo an immediate CT scan, but she was denied as her superintendent deemed it was not required.

Instead, she was told to go to an Employee State Insurance (ESI) Hospital in the morning because that was the entitlement for staff of AMRI hospital. Sadly, the young nurse from Odisha suffered a cardiac arrest and died shortly after.

“There was total dereliction of duty on the part of the hospital. She was a nurse of the hospital but she was told to go to the ESI Hospital and was offered no treatment," said one of her colleagues who wished to remain anonymous.

It was a case of negligence and high-handedness that seemed unjustified especially for a staff who had served the hospital for four years.

In an outpour of emotions, agitated hospital employees started pointing fingers at the human resource manager Gaurav Nair who was shoved to the ground, kicked and punched when he tried to pacify them. In the commotion, he sustained several bruises and a cut on the forehead. The police rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control.

Nurse was not allowed to go on medical leave

According to Mamata Sarkar, a nurse who shared a room with Uma at a paying guest facility in Keshtopur, said Uma had been complaining of headache for several days. And two days before her death, she had applied for medical leave – but it was not approved by her superintendent, Tulika Roy.

"We are not allowed to go on leave even when we are sick," expressed one nurse. "We are told to rest for a few hours and then resume working."

Uma had consulted a colleague, Dr Anindya Sarkar, who prescribed her some medicines, advising her to consult an ophthalmologist.

Mamata said, “She consulted an ophthalmologist at AMRI and took a pair of glasses, which she wore to work last night."

By 2.30am, half an hour after she had complained of headache, the pain intensified and she had to go to the emergency ward where Dr Sarkar gave her pain killers and advised a CT scan. Rita Kar, a nurse, alleged that her superintendent, Roy said “Uma was not entitled to such a test at our hospital”.

Roy added that if Uma's condition worsened, she should be put in the Intensive Cardiac Care Unit (ICCU). But nurses at AMRI hospital said Uma was left on her emergency bed without any monitoring device attached.

It was only in the morning when Uma's heart rate began dropping that she was transferred to the ICCU, where she breathed her last. Uma's parents arrived at the hospital late in the night from Sundergarh district in Odisha.

Her colleagues said that even after Uma's death, no senior official visited the ICCU.

Hospital to pay compensation to family of deceased

In a letter to the authorities, the outraged employees demanded explanations as to why no laboratory investigations or a CT scan was done; and why there was a delay for her admission. Additionally, there was no monitoring device attached to Uma’s bed and a Code Blue was not announced.

Since the incident, senior AMRI officials have spoken to the agitated employees. Later in the evening, the nurses were reported to have resumed working.

AMRI officials said they were investigating the matter. "Already the nursing superintendent and the emergency medical officer have been put under suspension," said Rupak Barua, CEO of AMRI.

“The hospital always provides emergency treatment to its employees. If there was any negligence in this case, it was because of a decision by some individuals."

The police have not received any complaint; but have begun a suo motu case of unnatural death.

Local Councillor Tulsi Sinha Roy remarked that "We demanded immediate suspension of the nursing superintendent and a departmental inquiry to find out who are the others who have neglected their duty.”

Tulsi Sinha Roy further claimed that the hospital has also agreed to pay compensation to the family members of the deceased as the victim died while on duty.

Rupak Barua, the CEO of the hospital termed the death as unfortunate and said "we are taking all responsibility of the deceased. An inquiry will be conducted and if somebody is found to be negligent, strong action will be taken.” MIMS

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