A week after a 'drunk' ward boy allegedly stripped in front of patients and medical staff at a civic-run hospital in Goregaon, a social activist who lodged a police complaint against the ward boy on Friday, said she was being threatened for initiating action.
The activist, Avisha Kulkarni, said that members of an employee union had urged her not to approach the police. "I've also been receiving threats on phone from these union people. They've warned me that I will not be spared if any action is taken against the ward boy, Anand Narim," said Kulkarni, adding that the police had assured her of unstinting support.
An unfazed Kulkarni, however, lodged a complaint against Narim at Goregaon police station on Friday evening.
Last Saturday, Narim, an operation theatre attendant at Siddharth Hospital allegedly stripped in front of two nurses and a minor patient while he was under the influence of alcohol. Hospital authorities said that two other staffers – Mukta Kothe and Gautam Shirke – were also drunk at work.
Kulkarni's version of 'protection by unions' was corroborated by doctors and paramedical staff at the hospital who also admitted that indecent acts by drunk employees are not uncommon. They said that instances of reporting to work drunk and absenteeism are rampant among Class IV employees of civic hospitals.
“The Class IV staffers are not afraid as they know well that they have the backing of unions affiliated to Maharashtra Navnirman Sena or Sharad Rao's Kamghar Union besides others. They know they can get away unscathed," said a hospital employee, asking not to be named.
“These unions are intimidate nurses and doctors working there. Anyone who dares speak up against them get transferred soon,” said the source.
Meanwhile, the police visited the hospital on Friday to probe the case. Narim, who was on duty in the intensive care unit, fainted on seeing the men in khaki. He was admitted to the same unit.
The hospital's chief medical officer, Dr Avinash Sankhe, said he had often tried to make such employees take up meditation to help them kick the bottle and to improve their mental health. “But they're not interested. My attempts haven't borne fruit,” said Dr Sankhe.
When dna dropped in at the hospital on Friday, a few nurses and a ward boy tried to dissuade this reporter from following up the matter. They said they would take their union's help to ensure that the media doesn't follow the matter.
Additional municipal commissioner Sanjay Deshmukh said he would meet Dr Sankhe on Saturday. “If the three employees are found guilty, we will take action against them,” said Deshmukh.