A controversy has erupted after Joan Mary Prescilla, the Nursing Superintendent of the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH) in Chennai died on Wednesday. The 58-year-old chief nurse had been on duty at the COVID-19 ward and had gone into quarantine two weeks ago after developing symptoms similar to coronavirus.
According to family members, Prescilla was admitted to the same hospital after she showed symptoms of coronavirus. They alleged that hospital administration is denying that she died of COVID-19 because the authorities don’t want her to be eligible for Rs 50 lakh medical insurance cover announced by the state government for each healthcare worker who dies due to coronavirus.
The hospital’s dean Dr Jayanthi denies the claim. According to the hospital, she was tested negative for COVID-19 twice. When asked about the case sheet of the head nurse that mentions ‘COVID positive’, officials claimed that it could be an error.
“On the case sheet, we have conducted inquiry as to who has written it. Somebody had written on the case sheet. We are conducting an inquiry about this, she didn’t even work in the COVID-19 ward during her duty,” she said.
Dr GR Ravindranath from Doctors’ Association of Social Equality (DASE) has backed the family saying that the nurse was admitted to COVID-19 ward at the hospital after being tested positive for the infection.
“How can a patient who tested negative for the infection be admitted to a COVID-19 ward? The government authorities want to deny the fact to avoid giving the compensation amount. There is no other cause for her death,” he was quoted as saying by a news website.
Meanwhile, the body of the nurse was kept at the hospital campus where dozens of staff paid tribute to her. The body was wrapped in a body bag and carried with the staff wearing PPEs.
According to reports, Priscilla was due to retire in March but got an extension because of the coronavirus pandemic following which the government extended the duty of the government servants across the state.