11 Jun 2021  |   06:04am IST

“You have invited these people (nurses) ...shouldn’t be called to functions because they work in COVID hospitals”

Retd teacher’s message to a senior nurse opens pandora’s box of hurt among Goa’s nurses; Association to file police complaint of defamation against retired teacher
“You have invited these people (nurses) ...shouldn’t be called to functions because they work in COVID hospitals”

Team Herald

MARGAO: They nursed, they cared and they put their lives at risk. Many in Goa call them COVID warriors. But in the confines of sections of society, they are facing hurtful ostracisation. And their ‘crime’? Being close to COVID patients. Shocking but true.

While the fraternity has spoken about how acquaintances and even family members have made hurtful remarks like not mingling with them socially, since they are always in touch with COVID  patients, this discontent spilled over when the casualty in charge of the South Goa District Hospital narrated a shocking incident of a retired school teacher sending a text objecting to nurses being called for a function because “they work in COVID hospital”.

‘...But you have invited people, we are worried, especially nurses should not be called, they work in the Covid hospital’, these are insulting words to one of the senior nurses of South Goa District Hospital and that to from a retired teacher.  

This is the second such incident reported of defaming the Covid frontline workers in the State, prompting many frontline healthcare workers to ask, “Are we the virus”?

The Trained Nurses Association will be filing a police complaint against the retired teacher on June 11. 

When contacted, Kuntal Kerkar the president of The Trained Nurses Association (India), Goa branch said that the association will file a police complaint against the person involved in defaming nurse Lisma Barneto on June 11. 

“This is very wrong and how come anyone defames a nurse, who is fighting for the Covid positive patients for a very long time? If people started defaming us how should we work? We too have our families, that means we should leave the job and sit at home? If so who will take care of the Covid patients?” Kerkar asked. 

Barneto, who is the casualty in charge of South Goa District Hospital is the victim of the incident at one of the private functions, which took place at Valpoi in May end. Lisma has brought this to the notice of the All Goa Trained Nurses Association. She has also urged the government to take action against the so-called retired teacher so that others should not engage in discriminating against the medical fraternity.

Speaking to Herald at Margao, Barneto narrated the incident and condemned the actions of a retired teacher, who has insulted her and the profession of nurses. 

“We, nurses, are toiling day and night out as frontline workers 24×7 during this pandemic. Instead of having an attitude of gratitude towards us such people are sending texts which have definitely hurt us and discouraged us,” she stated.

“I have been working in Covid wards since the beginning of this pandemic and I have sacrificed a lot. No time for family and no leaves to relax and despite this, nurses are insulted, that too by a person who is educated,” Barneto added. 

She has urged the president of the Trained Nurses Association that the person involved in insulting the nurses should be asked to publically apologize to the entire nursing fraternity in writing.

Barneto has also requested the government to take action against that retired teacher. “Are we the virus?” she further questioned.

Dr Madhu Ghodkirekar,  a veteran forensics professional at SGDH, also condemned the incident and said that this is not proper for people who are educated to insult nurses who have put their life at risk in serving COVID positive patients.

“The government has declared us as COVID warriors. However, practically people are insulting the medical fraternity in a manner that we are like a virus. Nurses and doctors are being insulted and discriminated upon, which is not right,” he stated. 

He said that this is not a matter pertaining to one nurse. It may be recalled there was an incident in Margao, where a housing colony had objected to doctors and nurses residing in the building, citing they are working in COVID wards.

“We don’t require petals of flowers, but at the same time don’t insult nurses and doctors. We should not be discriminated just because we are COVID warriors,” he appealed. 

An eminent doctor from Margao, Dr Francisco Colaco, said it is not proper to discriminate against the medical fraternity, but at the same time, COVID frontline workers need to take precautions not to be carriers of COVID infection.  

President of the Trained Nurses Association said that the world has been saved because of the nurses and doctors and other par-medical health workers. Sitting at home and passing comments is not proper. 

“Where has humanity gone? We are serving humanity and how come the public defame us?” she asked and added that if nurses hadn’t done their job, would many families have got their loved ones back and healthy?