regular-article-logo Sunday, 01 October 2023

Snake fear stalks nurses’ quarters in Kalyani

Hospital staff take homes on rent

Subhasish Chaudhuri Kalyani Published 18.11.20, 12:35 AM
A rundown building of the hospital in Kalyani.

A rundown building of the hospital in Kalyani. Ranjit Sarkar

Nurses posted at the ESI hospital in Kalyani are being compelled to live with venomous snakes in their dilapidated residential quarters, prompting some to live in rented houses close to the hospital, shouldering the additional financial burden for their emergency service.

However, many others such as the recent recruits, who are not in a position to afford rented homes, have been staying in the quarters despite the scare of the snakes.


Concerned with the situation, hospital superintendent Banani Das Dutta last week wrote a letter to the ESI director, appealing for immediate renovations to the dilapidated quarters.

Sources in the state labour department said the renovation work could be delayed because of the Covid-19 situation.

“We have been living in total horror. These dilapidated quarters are no longer suitable for living…. Besides many other problems, these are infested with snakes. This is a matter of life and death,” said a nurse.

“Snakes are often being found on our beds, on the dining tables, in the corners of our rooms, inside the windows. We are being compelled to stay there, risking our lives. The nights are especially scary as the darkness makes it more difficult to spot the snakes,” said another, adding that the nurses have been trying to get assigned night shifts to avoid staying at the quarters overnight.

The hospital has a total of 36 dilapidated quarters for nurses and 36 others for group D employees.

Cyclone Amphan caused further damage to the quarters.

“The problems worsened since May, with walls collapsing, windows damaged, pipes broken and even a weak rood,” said a nurse.

The nurses alleged that appeals for renovation work have been ignored by the state government.

Superintendent Das Dutta said: “I am aware of the poor condition of the nurses’ quarters. Nevertheless, according to the standing order we are not in a position to take up any work except in emergency situations.”

“At the same time, no minor repair work of these quarters would serve the purpose. It needs major renovation. So I have appealed to the ESI director to look into the problem,” she said.

“I have also advised the nurses to submit a representation to the higher authorities from their end, so that the magnitude of the issue could be better understood,” she added.

The hospital’s acting matron Shibani Choudhury said all the staff quarters of nurses and group D employees have been severely damaged and not suitable for living.

“The girls have been telling me for long. I feel helpless. They joined the service from remote areas and have no option but to avail the quarters. The house rent allowance of 12 per cent is deducted from their salary. But, in return they are allotted are not at all suitable to live, which compelled many to leave and to stay on rent, which they can barely afford,” she said.

The 266-bed ESI Hospital was set up in Kalyani in 1968. It is run by the state labour department as part of the Employees’ State Insurance Scheme, to facilitate medical care to industrial workers in Bengal.

The scheme was introduced under the ESI Act, 1948, as a measure of social security with the primary objective of providing certain benefits to employees in case of sickness, maternity, and employment-related injuries.

The hospital is popular and experiences a regular rush of patients, since it offers free services that include pathology, ECG, urology, radiology, ICCU and medicine to the patients, who are often admitted beyond hospital capacity.

The hospital has currently has around 30 doctors and 56 nurses.

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