GANGTOK: Two days after a horrific attack on a cardiologist and health worker at STNM hospital, hospital staff, from health workers to their top doctors, joined a silent protest on the hospital premises .
Cardiologist Dr Sanjay Upreti and health assistant Kalwati Chettri were stabbed with a knife by a Thinlay Bhutia from Tathangchen in Gangtok on December 14.
Sources said the reason for the attack was a personal attack on Kalwati Chettri, who was avoiding calls from the attacker. When her phone was turned off at work, this person entered the hospital, found her on the fourth floor, and savagely stabbed her around the thigh. The nearby doctor tried to intervene to save her, but he was also assaulted.
The condition of the two men is believed to be critical, they were airlifted to Neotia Hospital in Siliguri for further treatment on December 15. The two were ventilated for more than 10 hours after initial treatment at STNM hospital on Tuesday.
Chief Minister of Sikkim Prem Singh Golay also visited the hospital and met the two before they were referred to Siliguri hospital. The CM ensured tighter security at the hospital premises with promises “of more security personnel, metal detectors and limiting family visits to patients.”
One day after the CM’s visit, doctors, nurses, health workers and students as well as some doctors from the central referral hospital gathered at 9 am at the entrance to the hospital. They staged a silent demonstration with placards that read: “We are also humans”, “Do not attack the saviors”, among others.
Hospital staff, numbering nearly 500, wanted to bring the protest outside the hospital premises, but were prevented from doing so by police and senior medics, including medical director KB Gurung.
The protesting hospital staff later gathered in the conference room where many doctors, nurses and paramedics raised their grievances which have allegedly taken place over the years in the only government multi-specialty hospital in the ‘State.
The health workers also agreed to submit a memorandum to the state government as well as various medical agencies at the national level.
A section of STNM doctors, including the Sikkim section of the Indian Medical Association, has proposed a bill to strengthen security and severely punish attacks on healthcare workers.
Doctors on the other end of the phone wonder, “What’s the point of having metal detectors or security personnel, when the intention towards healthcare workers is bad to begin with.” There are dark corners in the hospital such as abandoned rooms and wards or parking lots; these areas are scary for health workers who come on the night shift.
Another doctor added: “When the attack took place, there was no alarm system to alert security. The perpetrator roamed freely after stabbing them, leaving the hospital easily until he intervened outside the hospital premises after a long time. “
A nurse said: “There have been many cases of theft in the hospital, but despite the CCTV cameras, there is nothing to stop the thieves. CCTV cameras are simply namesake.
IMA Sikkim Section President Dr Karma Loday Bhutia, addressing the assembly, said: “Any association, be it doctors or nurses, should all come together to express our grievances and our demands. We must show solidarity and not only for the STNM but for all the other district and private hospitals. Protection of medical service personnel and persons connected with medical services… there is a law which says that an offense is not liable to bail. The process is taking a long time, we complained to the Minister of Health. A gazette must be published by the state government. We have to push for a bill, that is the most important thing.
Sikkim: a doctor, an attendant stabbed at STNM hospital