For two days, Asha (43) and her family members ran from hospital to hospital hoping one would admit her. Breathless, armed with an oxygen cylinder but without a Covid positive test, they reached Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital Tuesday.
Neha (25), her daughter who lives with her in Mayur Vihar’s Chilla village, said, “We left on Sunday night and went to many private hospitals, but they would not admit her. My mother was feeling breathless and weak. At Safdarjung Hospital, they told us to take her to RML.” Arriving at RML at 1 am on June 9, the family waited more than 12 hours before a bed could be arranged for her in the ICU.
Rupesh (28), Asha’s nephew who lives in Mahipalpur and was with the family at RML, said, “We tried Sir Ganga Ram, Fortis, Medeor and Safdarjung, and they all said they had no beds. Some asked us to pay a hefty amount. Asha’s Covid test has not been conducted yet, but she has been put on ventilator.”
Asha’s family said she was refused a test initially and doctors told her she did not fall in the category of those who could be tested in Delhi, adding that she also tried to get tested at other hospitals, but was turned away.
A spokesperson at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said they did not have ICU beds available, while a person from the information centre at Medeor Hospital in Vasant Kunj said that the hospital had not started admitting patients yet and will start next week.
A spokesperson from the Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj, said, “We have checked our records and we don’t have any information of patient Ms Asha coming to the emergency and being refused admission or treatment.”
The Delhi government had recently issued an order directing hospitals not to turn away patients even if they don’t have a Covid report. Another order told hospitals that if they didn’t have room to accommodate a patient, they must ensure he or she is admitted elsewhere.
But for patients, challenges remain.
Hajra Begum (60) is one such patient. Her son Rashid Ali (36), who runs a salon at Mangolpuri, brought her to RML Hospital on Tuesday as she was having trouble breathing for the past few days. “A few days ago she developed symptoms. Today, we went to Mahavir hospital at Ranibagh, where they did an X-Ray and ECG, and put her on oxygen for a few hours,” he said. He said the hospital told them to take her to RML for Covid testing, from where she was again asked to try elsewhere. Unable to afford ambulance charges and admission charges at private hospitals, the family chose to return home, hoping Begum will be alright.
“The ambulance is charging Rs 2000 per stop. We will try to quarantine her at home. We do not wish to make rounds, just roaming around will empty our pockets,” Ali said.
The lack of a Covid test result also meant Megh Shyam (45) had to struggle to find a bed. Prem Kumar (24), his brother, said, “On June 5, he started coughing and had difficulty breathing. He had been going to office before that.” The family first went to the Lok Nayak Hospital on Monday, where they were refused admission as he did not have a test result.
From Lok Nayak, the family arrived at RML Hospital, where they were told there were no beds available. “We left for Safdarjung hospital, where they also said that there were no beds available, and asked Megh to get tested first. We returned to RML Hospital and by then one bed was available. We got him admitted immediately.” Kumar said that Shyam’s test report is awaited, and he is being given oxygen.
A spokesperson from Lok Nayak Hospital said that “no one has been refused as per our knowledge”.A spokesperson from Safdarjung hospital said, “The hospital has a no denial policy. However as per medical protocol, there are some categories of patients who do not require to be admitted, and can home quarantine. Otherwise, we do not deny services to any patient.”
Officials at RML refused to comment on the availability of beds. According to Delhi government’s mobile app, the hospital has 137 Covid beds, out of which 135 were occupied at 7.11 pm on Tuesday.
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