GUJRAT: Nurses at the Aziz Bhatti Shaheed Teaching Hospital (ABSTH) on Saturday staged a protest demonstration against the administration on the death of their colleague.

A senior nursing staff earlier serving in the [coronavirus] isolation ward, Sadaf Hussain Jameel, 38, died in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital late on Friday.

Though the hospital administration insisted that she died of some other illness rather than of being a Covid-19 patient, she was not tested for the viral infection as she was put on ventilator on Thursday after her condition deteriorated.

She was survived by three children (two sons and a daughter) and the husband.

On Saturday morning, scores of nurses staged a protest demonstration in front of Gujrat Deputy Commissioner office against the nursing superintendent and the administration for fixing her duty in the isolation ward despite the fact that she was already sick.

Protesters say despite her illness history she was posted in isolation ward; probe panel formed

The protesting nurses chanted slogans, seeking justice and demanding action against those involved in criminal negligence.

Earlier, her husband, an allied health worker in Gujrat social security hospital, had also lodged a protest against what he termed a criminal negligence in the matter of his wife’s duty at the isolation ward.

However, the protesting nurses dispersed peacefully when the senior officials of the district administration and health department negotiated with them assuring them of a complete inquiry into the matter.

A five-member inquiry committee has also been constituted by the hospital management on the directions of Gujrat DC Dr Khurram Shahzad.

Earlier, Dr Nasir Naeem, the duty medical officer, who declared her death due to respiratory tract infection, had also suggested to take nasal swab of the deceased for Covid-19.

Medical Superintendent Dr Abid Ghauri told Dawn that the deceased was a known patient of mixed connective tissue disorder with lung and renal involvement that usually hit the immune system as she had been under treatment of a Lahore-based consultant for the last couple of years.

However, she was brought to the trauma centre of the hospital on April 9 and put on ventilator and her dialysis was also conducted but she expired on Friday night.

Asked why she was posted in isolation ward despite [illness] history, he said she ‘voluntarily’ attended the training sessions on how to operate in the isolation wards having Covid-19 patients, but even before arrival of the first patient of coronavirus in the hospital on March 17, she did not join duty and remained absent for three days after which her duty was also changed from that ward whereas she was later admitted to the hospital for four days from March 19 and was again brought to the hospital in critical conditions on April 9.

Dr Ghauri said Dr Aitzaz Basheer, pulmonologist under whose treatment the deceased nurse had been for long and Dr Muhammad Ajmal, a senior registrar of ABSTH, in their joint report to the management filed on Friday had said that the CBC and chest X-ray of the patient were not suggestive of her being a coronavirus patient and the duty doctor mistakenly advised for the said test in the initial report.

He said a detailed inquiry had already been ordered that would bring facts to the fore.

Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2020