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Chandigarh father loses both sons to Covid, hospitals hand him a bill of Rs 30 lakh

JPS Kalra, a Chandigarh-based trader, lost both his sons to the virus in this second wave, and saw his world come crashing down around him.

Written by Hina Rohtaki | Chandigarh |
May 26, 2021 10:43:00 pm
Covid-19Kalra added that they did try for a bed at PGIMER, but there were no vacancies, forcing them to turn to private hospitals for treatment. (Representational photo)

Covid has changed the way we live, and for many families, life just won’t be the same after the dust from this pandemic settles.

The Indian Express spoke to one of the families who were struck by the second wave, with many of them confessing that they had no idea even last month that they had so little time left with their loved ones. Their lives, they said, will change forever.

JPS Kalra, a Chandigarh-based trader, lost both his sons to the virus in this second wave, and saw his world come crashing down around him.

And all the grieving father was handed as consolation by the hospital was a bill of Rs 30 lakh for the sons that he had lost.

Kalra lost both his sons — Harpal (44) and Sarabjit Singh (41) — within fourteen days just when they were starting to get better and there was a ray of hope that they might return home soon. While Harpal is survived by his two daughters and a wife, Sarabjit is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter. Harpal and Sarabjit had done their graduation from SD College sector 32 Chandigarh. Harpal has a printing and stationery work while Sarabjit would help his father at their Sector 17 garments shop.

Seventy three-years-old Kalra said that his wife and he were still dealing with the shock of having lost their eldest son Harpal on May 9, when on May 23 they got the news that their younger child too had succumbed to the virus. The numbed parents saw their world crash in front of their eyes. Harpal was admitted in Gian Sagar Medical College Hospital in Banur, while Sarabjit was admitted in Mayo Hospital, Mohali and succumbed at Fortis Hospital.

On March 5, the entire family celebrated JPS Kalra’s birthday together. A cake cutting was held. A little more than two months later, the same Kalra was devastated having to cremate both his sons, one after the other.

In April, the entire family — Kalra, his wife, Harpal, his wife and children, Sarabjit and his wife and two children — had contracted the virus. While Kalra’s wife, the other two women and the four children isolated at home, Kalra, Harpal and Sarabjit had to be admitted in hospitals.

Only on May 6, Kalra got discharged from Gian Sagar Medical College Hospital after defeating the virus. He thought that just like him, Harpal too would be discharged soon. But on May 9, he passed away.

“I thought he would also come home soon. But I didn’t know that I won’t ever be able to see him again. What can be worse than a father who has lost both his sons,” Kalra said as his eyes welled up..

Kalra said that his second son Sarabjit tested negative on the evening of May 22. A day later, he too had passed away.

“At Mayo hospital, staff kept saying that my son was fine. He tested negative there after few days of treatment but I could sense something wrong as my son wasn’t responding to the treatment well. We then shifted him to Fortis for a second opinion, as there were no beds in PGI. Doctors at Fortis told me that my son’s condition was very bad and his lungs had been damaged. My second son just collapsed and I couldn’t see him again. In fact my entire world collapsed with Sarabjit,” said Kalra.

“He was in Mayo hospital for some days and the doctors kept saying that he is doing fine. We literally fought with them to make them tell us his exact health status. I asked them to do a full body test so that I know if all his vital organs were fine. And they told me that he is perfectly okay and all his organs were completely fine. Today my son is no more,” Kalra said.

Kalra added that they did try for a bed at PGIMER, but there were no vacancies, forcing them to turn to private hospitals for treatment.

“I think it is time that the government took over control of the situation. This is a calamity and these private hospitals are just cashing in on the situation. They don’t know exactly what is to be done and are just charging money from innocent patients by asking them for injections, which we don’t even know are being used or not. Gian Sagar Hospital gave me a bill of Rs 9 lakh (for my and Harpal’s admission) while Mayo hospital gave me a bill of Rs 21 lakh. These private establishments are just exploiting the situation. At least doctors at Gian Sagar tried their best for Harpal, Mayo hospital just messed up my son Sarabjit’s treatment,” Kalra said.

Mayo hospital’s Chief Executive Officer Rajesh Gulia defended the bill amount charged, and said, “We have been charging patients as per the government’s notification only.”

“I will just request people to follow all precautions. I don’t want this to happen with anyone else. There can’t be anything bigger than seeing both your sons pass away,” the grieving father says.

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