Nurses working in New Al-Qasr Al-Eini Teaching Hospital have rejected media claims accusing them of thuggery.
In a press conference on Wednesday the nurses recounted their side of the story regarding clashes which took place last Wednesday between them, hospital security, the military police and patients who were injured during the revolution. The nurses also held a protest on Tuesday.
“We demand an investigation into the clashes,” Amer Rashad, hospital accountant and one of the press conference’s organisers, said, adding that four nurses were injured during the attack, one of them suffering from a broken arm.
“There needs to be police [presence] outside the hospital; if the police had cordoned the hospital Wednesday night, none of the clashes would have happened.”
One nurse, who gave her name as Magda, claimed that hospital security had to smuggle her from the hospital Wednesday night to protect her from the patients and their friends and families. She claimed that only nurses and security officials were injured during the clashes, reaffirming that none of the patients were injured.
However Asma’ Al-Gredley, an activist working to highlight the plight of those injured during the revolution and who was present during the clashes, claimed that at least five patients were injured following the clashes.
“The military police let us deal with the revolutionary patients,” Magda said, denying that the military police attacked any patients.
Al-Gredley claimed that military police beat one patient, Ahmed Abdel Khalek, on his wounded leg, where he had had surgery four days before, adding that he passed out from the beating.
During the press conference, a video was played which, according to Rashad, showed how Abdel Khalek had feigned fainting.
The clashes started when a number of patients tried to leave the hospital in order to attend a ceremony arranged on their behalf in the International Garden. Al-Gredley claimed that the patients tried to get permission for leave from the nurses, a procedure frequently exercised without any complications whenever any of the victims wanted to take temporary leave, only to be met with inexplicable “intransigence” practiced by the nurses.
Magda claimed that the patients wanted to leave. When the nurses told them to wait until they secure them permission for leave, they refused and started abusing the nurses.
“They always get aggressive with us,” Magda said, referring to the patients. “Whenever I address any of them, they tell me ‘we are revolutionary patients’, and thus a ‘red line’.”
A statement was distributed during the press conference claiming that the patients at the hospital are not genuine revolutionaries but thugs, convicts and drug addicts.
“They stay up till 3am getting drunk and high,” Magda claimed, referring to some 25-30 patients in New Al-Qasr Al-Eini Teaching hospital referred to as “revolutionary patients.” “Some of them are suffering from cancer; what does a cancer patient have to do with revolutionary injuries?”
Al-Gredley claimed that the nurses were calling for the expulsion of these patients from hospital.
“Abdel Khalek was already expelled on Friday, yet he returned after an intervention from President Mohamed Morsy’s legal adviser, Mohamed Gad Allah, and the new head of the revolutionary victims’ fund Khaled Badawy,” Al-Gredley said. “Wafa’ Khalifa and Ahmed Atef were expelled during Wednesday’s clashes.”
Al-Gredley stated that Atef returned Tuesday as he was scheduled for surgery.
“After coming out of surgery, he was terrorised by the anesthesiologist who kept rocking his bed, cursing him and telling him, ‘You brought Morsy to power, we used to treat Mubarak and shall still treat him.’ Yet, all revolutionary patients are unanimous about staying in hospital until the investigations into the clashes are over.”
Magda denied that the nurses are demanding the expulsion of the patients, but maintained that those who are not genuine revolutionaries should leave hospital.
“The nurses who were injured by revolutionary patients are currently nursing them in hospital,” Rashad said. “We only demand that those who do not respect hospital policy leave.”
“If they are here for external services such as physiotherapy, they can get such services at home instead of [occupying] hospital beds,” Fouad Farag, another organiser of the press conference, said.
Rashad stated that 534 patients injured during the revolution have been treated in New Al-Qasr Al-Eini Teaching hospital, claiming that a portion of their treatment expenses was taken care of by the hospital.
“Our doors have always been wide open for revolutionary patients while other hospitals closed all doors,” Rashad said. “We even sent makeshift hospitals to Tahrir Square during the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes.”
The patients are treated at the expense of Heba Al-Swedy, a well-known society figure who has supported the injured of the revolution.
“There are a hundred question marks over the person of Al-Swedy,” Magda said. “We need to know who supports her and whether or not she’s an Egyptian.”
Magda claimed that Al-Swedy causes havoc in hospital through the parties she throws for the patients in the hospital “where she brings extravagant cakes.”
“She threatened the nurses on Tuesday, telling them that if they held their protest, she would send Ultras [football fans] to attack them and burn down the hospital,” Magda claimed, adding that a presidential investigation into the matter started on Wednesday.
Al-Swedy was criticised by some patients Wednesday when she called upon activists who had come to support the patients to leave, accusing them of being the cause of the clashes. The patients have demanded to be treated at the state’s expense instead.
Al-Gretley stated that Gad Allah and Badawy both said last Thursday that the patients will be treated at the expense of the state.
“The revolutionary victims’ fund has almost EGP 200 million,” Al-Gretley said. “Yet its former head, Hosni Saber,was so corrupt that he never used the money to help the victims.”
Al-Gretley has launched a campaign three months ago alongside activists Mohamed Mohsen and Medhat Abdel Dayem, to help generate media attention about the patients pending treatment.