Cleaning staff mop floor at Khasmahal Sadar Hospital on Wednesday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
When you cannot pay the cleaners, make sure they have less work.
This is the new policy of Sadar Hospital in Khasmahal. Aware of the sagging morale of cleaning staff, who have not been paid for five months, the heal hub has introduced a fine for those littering the premises and spitting on the walls.
On Tuesday evening, posters were put up all over the hospital warning litterbugs that they have to cough up Rs 100 as fine if found dirtying the premises. The warning comes with a request to refrain from such activities.
Sources at the hospital said the 12-odd cleaners, who worked on contract basis, were entitled to Rs 170 per day but had not been paid over the past five months.
“We had no alternative but to paste the posters. We cannot ask the cleaners to mop the floors every now and then as we understand they are working without salaries. Patients’ attendants and visitors are also being told to refrain from littering,” said an official, refusing to be named.
The hospital’s deputy superintendent Sahir Pall admitted that the cleaners were going without salaries but refused to reveal much about the reasons behind the poster campaign.
“It is part of our efforts to keep the hospital clean. I would not like to speak much on it. You should speak to my seniors,” he said.
Sources at the firm, Swastik Enterprises, which employs the cleaning staff, blamed the state health department for the delay in salary payment. They added that the firm paid a few months’ salaries from its own funds, hoping that it would be reimbursed when the state department released funds.
“We met and wrote to former civil surgeon Jagat Bhusan Prasad and his successor L.B.P Singh several times on this issue. The officials say that the funds allotted to pay the cleaners had not arrived since April. They have assured us that it would be released soon,” said Sashi Singh, director of Swastik Enterprises.
New civil surgeon L.B.P. Singh could not be contacted despite several attempts.
His predecessor Jagat Bhusan Prasad, however, said the dues would be cleared once state health department released funds. “I think the allotted sum will arrive by the end of this month,” he said.
The 100-bed double-storeyed health hub, inaugurated in January, is spread over two acres and provides OPD services in six departments — medicine, orthopaedics, surgery, ophthalmology, paediatrics and gynaecology. The hospital caters to 500 patients daily apart from those admitted to the indoor facilities.