Disposing of Covid bodies takes toll on hospital staff

Taxing to see heart-wrenching scenes every day, say employees

Disposing of Covid bodies takes toll on hospital staff

Members of the Dead Body Management Committee at the Government Rajindra Hospital mortuary in Patiala on Saturday. Tribune photo

Karam Prakash

Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 15

Amid surging Covid fatalities, the members of the Dead Body Management Committee at Government Rajindra Hospital here are struggling to maintain their psychological well-being.

It is a huge challenge for these frontline workers to maintain their composure during the trying times, say experts.

Ankur Goyal, a member of the Dead Body Management Committee, said, “It is very taxing to see heart-wrenching scenes every day. Scenes of grieving family members are very unsettling.”

Management committee members said the prevailing situation was the most challenging phase of their lives. We have never been engaged in such professional duties earlier, they said.

The responsibility to shift and transport Covid dead bodies lies with a dedicated team of mortuary marshals, doctors from the forensic-medicine department, pharmacy faculty, and four medical officers deputed by the office of Civil Surgeon, Patiala.

The team at Rajindra Hospital is being supervised by nodal officer and in-charge of the Covid mortuary Dr DS Bhullar.

“The dead bodies are kept in the cold rooms of the hospital mortuary till the time they are handed over to the relatives for cremation,” said Dr Bhullar.

“The whole process of disposing of the dead bodies has to be carried out in a very dignified and sympathetic manner so that the feelings of the aggrieved relatives are not hurt. However, the risk of family members turning aggressive is always there,” he said.

Direct exposure to the relatives, who might be potential Covid suspects, is also a huge challenge for the staff, including the doctors on duty.

“The government has totally failed to recognise our services and the virus threat we are facing. Our meagre perks are also not being paid in time,” rued one of the marshals, who has been working at the mortuary for more than a year now.

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